Clem­son makes big win­ners out of bet­tors in Las Ve­gas

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - SPORTS - By TIM DAHLBERG AP Sports Writer

LAS VE­GAS — Book­mak­ers were feel­ing so good about things with Alabama up 14-0 mid­way through the sec­ond quar­ter of the Col­lege Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship that they of­fered 19 points to get bet­tors to wa­ger on Clem­son.

They weren’t feel­ing so good later when Clem­son’s come­back win made big losers out of sports books up and down the Las Ve­gas Strip.

“It was a ter­rific col­lege foot­ball sea­son for the books,” said Jay Korne­gay, odd­s­maker at the West­gate Las Ve­gas. “But it cer­tainly ended on a sour note for us.”

Bet­tors scored a rare vic­tory in a big game, jumping on Clem­son when bet­ting opened a week ear­lier and stay­ing with the Tigers un­til fi­nally book­mak­ers stopped tak­ing bets in the sec­ond half of Mon­day night’s game.

It was one of the worst losses in a big game in re­cent years for book­ies. And it came af­ter bet­tors also tri­umphed over book­ies on the first week­end of NFL play­offs, when all four fa­vorites cov­ered the spread.

“Some­times in this busi­ness you take it on the chin,” said Jimmy Vac­caro, odd­s­maker at the South Point re­sort. “And some­times you put it in your pocket.”

Vac­caro said the bet­ting vol­ume was big­ger than any­thing he’s ever seen on a col­lege foot­ball game, with the South Point book jammed from early af­ter­noon on through game time. Un­for­tu­nately for the sports books, about 70 per­cent of the money was bet on Clem­son.

One bet­tor with faith in Clem­son even played it on the money line when it was down 14 points. The 10-1 pay­out scored a nice $2,000 win for the gam­bler at Buf­falo Bill’s re­sort when Clem­son came back to not only cover the spread but win the game out­right.

“The masses were on Clem­son in ev­ery form,” said Nick Bog­danovich, whose Wil­liam Hill com­pany runs the Buf­falo Bill’s book. “They bet them plus the point, on the money line and in the first half dur­ing play. And they were right.”

Clem­son was a touch­down un­der­dog the week be­fore the game, de­spite com­ing off a com­mand­ing

31-0 win over Ohio State. But bet­tors largely ig­nored Alabama’s un­de­feated record and cham­pi­onship pedi­gree to bet the Tigers both as out­right win­ners on the money line and with the points.

Be­fore the game started, about 70 per­cent of the money was on Clem­son at most books, and in-game bet­ting added to the to­tal.

“The big plays early came in on Alabama,” Korne­gay said. “But the last cou­ple of days was all Clem­son money.”

Bog­danovich es­ti­mated $16 mil­lion to $18 mil­lion was bet legally on the game in Ne­vada sports books. That pales in com­par­i­son to a Su­per Bowl, where more than $100 mil­lion is wa­gered, but was big­ger than any of the NFL play­off games over the week­end.

“All you can do is tip your hat to bet­tor and pay them,” Bog­danovich said.

Don’t feel too bad for the books tak­ing a size­able loss. All sea­son long they have pros­pered on col­lege foot­ball, and were prof­itable for the sea­son even while los­ing the big game.

“It was a re­ally solid col­lege foot­ball sea­son for us,” Korne­gay said. “The NFL has been a dif­fer­ent story. We have re­ally strug­gled with the NFL this year.”

That should be good news for bet­tors, who still have two rounds of play­offs and the Su­per Bowl to look for­ward to.

“You never know when the run is com­ing, it’s one of those spells,” Bog­danovich said. “Some­times they get us. But most of the time we get them.”

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