Monday, Jan. 24, 2000 | 9:33 a.m.
LAS VEGAS - Forgive this city's bookies if they don't root for the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl.
When some bettors are walking around with tickets showing 200-1 odds on the Rams, it's enough to make even the most grizzled oddsmakers nervous.
"Unfortunately, we took quite a bit of money on the Rams," said Joe Lupo, sports book director at the Stardust hotel-casino. "We had to adjust the money line on the game to make up for it."
The Rams settled into a 7-point favorite at most Las Vegas sports books in the hours after they beat Tampa Bay to get into the Super Bowl.
For a few short weeks before the NFL season began, bettors could get 200-1 odds on the Rams winning the Super Bowl. And some bettors proved to be prophets.
At the Imperial Palace, book manager Jay Kornegay said three bettors put money on the Rams when they were 200-1 in the future book.
"I'd like to be in their shoes right now," Kornegay said. "But we'll end up all right on it. I know there are some books that are sweating out a win by the Rams."
What a difference 18 games makes.
A team that faced long odds before the first game kickoff is now a touchdown favorite in this city's sports books to win its first Super Bowl.
"The Rams and Titans? Give me a break," Kornegay said. "Basically it sums up the entire NFL year. Everything has been flip-flopped."
The Rams opened as 8-point favorites, but minutes after the their 11-6 come-from-behind win over Tampa Bay 11-6, most books quickly lowered it to 7.5 or 7 as money came in on the underdogs. The over/under was 49.5.
St. Louis had been a 14-point favorite over Tampa Bay and failed to cover the point spread, while Tennessee was a 7-point underdog to Jacksonville.
"The most ideal matchup for bettors would have been St. Louis and Jacksonville, but at least we got one of them in," Kornegay said. "A Tampa Bay-Tennessee Super Bowl might have been a disaster."
Jason Been, an oddsmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, said he actually made the Rams an 8-point favorite as the clock ticked down in the final conference championship game before lowering it.
"It's just early money moving it a bit," Been said.
The line isn't expected to fluctuate much this week because it is right around a touchdown, which is one of the magical number lines in oddsmaking.
Last year, gamblers wagered $75,986,520 on the Super Bowl in this state's legal sports books. Untold millions, or even billions, were wagered illegally elsewhere.
Bookies kept $2.9 million of that money last year, a 3.8 percent hold.
Ladbroke, the London-based oddsmaker, said today the Rams were a 1-3 favorite, while Nashville was a 9-4 underdog.