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Volume 21 No. 47
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Jay Rood, VP of race and sports books, MGM Resorts International

The Super Bowl is the Black Friday of the football season for Las Vegas sports books, accounting for 15 percent to 20 percent of all NFL wagering for the year. Last year’s game generated a record handle of $98.9 million for Nevada books. Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports books for MGM Resorts International, went to work as a ticket writer at one of the casino chain’s Lake Tahoe properties 19 years ago. Today, he oversees betting lines on all events — including the Super Bowl.

The weather issue really has us concerned with this Super Bowl, because the prop angle is going to take on a whole different mentality.

On this year’s game: We’re going to have to be a little more cautious with some of the props we put up because the weather can really [affect things]. If we have a game like the Philly game [vs. Detroit, in deep snow, on Dec. 8], although that game turned out to be a track meet, you had issues. Field goals were nonexistent. And we have quite a few kicker props. That would be an issue. Passing props would be an issue.

Solutions?: We’re going to put up the nuts and bolts of the game and the props that go with that the week before, which is what I do typically anyway, and then player and situational props tend to go up seven or eight days before the game. This year, that might not be the case. We might have to wait until we’re four days out or so before we start releasing particular player yardage props.

On the ‘sharps’: Back in the day, you had a handful of props, and the sharps [professional gamblers] generally considered them gimmicks; sucker bets. They didn’t mess with them. They bet into the game itself, and their action got diluted heavily by the public. And it still does. In the game, the sharp handle is a small percentage of the handle. On an everyday weekend, the sharp handle is probably 30 to 40 percent. On the Super Bowl, it’s probably less than 15 percent. ... In the last five or six years, the sharps have gotten very interested in the props. They no longer think they’re a gimmick. They think it’s a massive opportunity to try and cart money out of the casino.

Super Bowl Sunday in the casinos: It’s like Friday at 5:30 at the bank, and everybody is trying to cash their paycheck. It’s an overwhelming sea of humanity that shows up. An hour before the game, we’ll have 25 windows open and 30 people in each line. It’s amazing how well our writers do in that high-pressure situation for the seven or eight hours before kickoff. It’s quite a spectacle.

— Bill King