LAS VEGAS – College football fans and ESPN executives aren’t the only ones applauding the new championship playoffs.
Bettors and bookies seem to like it a lot, too.
The semifinal games on New Year’s Day drew smash box office business in Nevada’s legal sports books. And the title game Monday night between Ohio State and Oregon will follow a weekend of NFL playoff games that could be one of the most heavily bet ever.
Like Ohio State as a 6 1/2-point underdog or think Oregon will cover as a big favorite once again? Get in line and bring plenty of cash.
“It’s been a very, very good football season,” said Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point sports book. “The interest is through the roof.”
That was true even before the four teams in the playoff were announced in a football season that has been beyond good in this gambling town. Sports books took in record amounts every month on football, including more than $400 million in November alone.
Much of that was bet on the NFL, but college football got its share of the action, too. And while Monday’s title game probably won’t match the action on a Dallas-Green Bay matchup the day before that has bookmakers salivating, it won’t be too far behind.
“It will be a super busy weekend,” said Nick Bogdanovich, oddsmaker for the chain of William Hill U.S. sports books. “And we just came off a six-day run of nonstop action that was huge on football.”
How the books make out on the title game remains to be played out. But in the only state where full sports betting is legal, football is on an unprecedented roll.
Figures compiled by the Nevada Gaming Control Board show records set in September, October and November for football betting. In the first three months of the football season, more than $1.1 billion was wagered on the games in Nevada’s 186 sports books, with bookies keeping about $82 million of that in profits.
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