Sports books suffer trickle-down effect of halted economy

Nevada's gaming economy is taking a swift blow following Tuesday's terrorist attacks, which put a near stop on travel and slowed commerce to a crawl.

With the bulk of this week's professional games called off for sports across the board - save for Canadian football and horse racing - Nevada's sports books will no doubt suffer from the financial impact. The question is how much.

"One weekend can really hurt your casino," said Chris Andrews, Cal-Neva vice president of race and sports betting. The company owns 19 sports books in the state, including those inside the Pinon Plaza and Carson Station. "As soon as this happened, this was not going to be a good week."

But Andrews emphasizes that he supports the cancellations, saying "These things are really more important than sports and betting."

According to the Gaming Control Board, Nevada's sports books take in $2.1 billion yearly in wagers. The leading sport is football, at $840.4 million of that total, followed by basketball and baseball which each fall in the mid-500's.

Last September, gamblers wagered nearly $174 million on football games, according to the board, which regulates the industry. During the same time period, bettors bet nearly $54 million on baseball.

While Andrews will not hazard a guess as to what percentage this week's stoppage might represent, it will no doubt be significant. National Football League and college football are both just a few weeks into their seasons, while the pennant race is heating up for Major League Baseball.

"There is a lot of stuff that is out of our hands so we cannot worry about it," he said.

Baseball will resume play Monday, with a makeup schedule slated for the week of October 17, said Commissioner Bud Selig. The NFL has been non-committal about if and when make-up games will be played.

"We in the NFL have decided that our priorities for this weekend are to pause, grieve, and reflect," NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in a statement. "A decision on whether to reschedule this weekend's games is under consideration."

The normal football season is 16 games.

''A few people were bummed out about (not betting) but most of them are upset about what's going on in the world rather than what's going on in sports,'' Harrahs Reno sports book supervisor Steve Gibbons told the Associated Press. ''We haven't had many complaints.''


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