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September 18, 2019

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Sunday Slaughter: Sports books suffer ‘worst ever’ NFL week

Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions among teams who pay off big for bettors

Outdoor, Walk-Up Betting Window

Steve Marcus

A gambler places a bet at the new Lucky’s sports book in the Riviera Thursday, September 1, 2011. The remodeled sports book also features an outdoor, walk-up betting window.

A few bettors turned $5 into $5,000 Sunday, and that was just at one local chain of sports books.

William Hill spokesman Jimmy Vaccaro said his sports books paid off more 10-team parlays than he can remember in a single week of NFL action. Another William Hill patron spent $3 and cashed out for $9,000 after all 12 legs of a parlay came in.

“More and more people are wanting to bet a little to make a lot with parlays,” Vaccaro said. “In parlays, bookmakers have the best of it, but it turns very quickly when they get on the right sides. That’s what happened yesterday. You have to accept it and move on.”

Week 9 of the NFL proved catastrophic for Las Vegas sports books, as almost every team supported by the betting public rolled to cover the spread.

Public bettors tend to back more favorites, which covered in nine of 13 games this week, with Monday Night Football, where the New Orleans Saints are 3-point favorites over the Philadelphia Eagles, pending.

Even the underdogs that beat the Vegas number — namely the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — weren’t unpopular selections.

“It was the worst day I’ve ever seen that involved regular season in the NFL,” Vaccaro said. “I’ve seen worse single-day events, like big boxing matches, but it was really bad for the books.”

The three sides bet on the most at William Hill sports books were the Denver Broncos -5 over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Detroit Lions -5 over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans -10.5 over the Buffalo Bills.

All three of those teams won by more than a touchdown. A swing in any of those games, or several others, would have meant a more manageable loss.

“I tip my hat to the people who came up with those teams,” Vaccaro said. “I don’t know how they did it, but they didn’t win much the first eight weeks.”

Underdogs on the season had gone 68-47-2 against the spread before last week, meaning a bettor could have profited lucratively by blindly betting on every team getting points.

“We actually probably had the best eight weeks I’ve ever been involved with leading up to this,” Vaccaro said. “So everyone was feeling good about themselves, but you knew there was going to be a day when you were going to get a preponderance of favorites. But this wasn’t only favorites, it was the right favorites.”

While sports books were still tallying their early losses, key games went against them in both the afternoon and evening. The Seattle Seahawks covered the 5-point spread against the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons, favored by four, used a last-minute field goal to beat the Dallas Cowboys by six.

Those results brought even more people to the counter with parlays waiting to be cashed.

“There’s no sense in overreacting,” Vaccaro said. “When you get it handed to you, you can’t lash out. It’s just the way the gambling world is.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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