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Vegas sportsbooks win big on NCAA tourney; Casino owner loses $109k betting 1st 2 rounds

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The Las Vegas Review-Journal recapped sports betting action for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament in Las Vegas.

“We wrote as much in the first two days as we did on the Super Bowl, which is incredible,” veteran South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said. “They bet every game, even if they don’t like somebody. Because they’re here and it’s March Madness, they find an excuse to bet a game.

The tournament and the Super Bowl, which in February generated a Nevada record wagering handle of $138.5 million, both bring big crowds and big money to the city. But the demographics are different.

“The Super Bowl attracts an older, distinguished crowd, and there are a lot more couples and females,” Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said. “March is made for man-cation. That’s exactly what it is. They’re all in groups of two and six guys ripping it up and having a good time.”

Casino owner Derek Stevens lost $109,000 while betting every game in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Las Vegas casino owner Derek Stevens bet a total of $352,000 on the first round of the NCAA Tournament, wagering $11,000 to win $10,000 on each of the first 32 lines posted by the South Point on Selection Sunday.

Stevens lost a total of $109,000 after going 10-19-3 on his bets Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The owner of The D and the Golden Gate got off to a brutal start, losing all four of his plays in the First Four and going 3-10-2 Thursday. He was 3-14-2 and down $124,000 heading into Friday, when he won four of his first five plays.

Villanova’s upset loss to Wisconsin cost one bettor $50,000 on a money-line parlay he had on them along with Gonzaga.

Wisconsin’s 65-62 win over No. 1 overall seed Villanova on Saturday was the biggest upset of the NCAA Tournament and cost a bettor at the South Point $50,000 on a losing Wildcats-Gonzaga money-line parlay.

But the heaviest action by far was on Arizona’s 69-60 win over Saint Mary’s. In fact, veteran South Point sports book director Chris Andrews said the matchup generated the largest handle of any basketball game he can remember.

ESPN Chalk has been providing extensive coverage of betting action during the NCAA tournament.

Overall, sportsbooks across Las Vegas reported record betting on the tournament. William Hill said its handle on the tournament was up 30 percent for the first four days year over year.

“(The) tournament continues to grow like crazy,” Ed Salmons, assistant manager at the Westgate SuperBook, said.


ESPN Chalk has also published several sidebar articles on the tournament.