Threatened NFL lockout could harm NV sports books

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Las Vegas sports book operators say a threatened lockout of National Football League players next season could mean a hard financial hit for the $2.5 billion Nevada industry.

NFL players and owners are trying to work out a collective bargaining agreement by March 3. Among the issues to be resolved in order to avoid a lockout are revenue equity between players and owners; an 18-game regular season; and a rookie salary cap.

John Avello sports book and race director for Wynn Las Vegas said a season-long NFL work stoppage could cost Nevada sports books an estimated $850 million, according to The Las Vegas Review Journal.

"If there is a work stoppage, we'll do something to try to make up some of the revenue," Avello said. "However, that's some adjustment we'll have to make. We've done it before when the NFL players went on strike or with the NHL lockout."

In recent years, Super Bowl Sunday has generated a handle of between $80 million and $95 million for sports books in Las Vegas. This year's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers is expected to generate a handle near the record of $94.5 million, set in 2006 when the Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21-10.

Jimmy Vaccaro, director of sports operations and public relations with Brandywine Bookmaking LLC, said with the amount of money bet on professional football expected to be up over last year, the impact of an NFL work stoppage would be felt across the sports wagering industry.

"We don't want a work stoppage," Vaccaro said. "Its impact would far outweigh any stoppage in basketball or baseball."

Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports book operations at the Las Vegas Hilton, was more optimistic that NFL players and owners reaching a labor agreement.

"It's out of our control," he said. "But I think they're going to reach an agreement. They'll be too much pressure from the Food and Beverage Association all the way to the White House."

If a lockout occurs, Vaccaro said, he could see a shift toward college football wagering as the NCAA and television networks, such as ESPN, move games to Sunday and Monday to fill holes in their broadcast schedules.

"There is more interest in betting on college football, but it won't replace the interest in professional football," he said. "The handle is larger these days because more games are shown on television. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, you saw two college games on Saturday, and you got an early and late NFL game on Sunday. When more games are available, they tend to bet more. "


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