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Make your next bet your best bet

by Karel Ancona-Henry

With Spring, comes an array of sporting events, all waiting to be bet on at any of the area’s sports books.

The favorites this time of year include everything from March Madness, ending the first week in April, to the Masters Golf Tournament, the NBA play-offs, the start of baseball season and, of course, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, for those interested in horse racing.

If you’re feeling lucky, you can place your bets at any one of the area’s sports books.

“Every sporting event has a set of odds,” said Steve Forester, general manager of Bodine’s, which is set to open in early May. “Cal-Neva sets the odds for their properties; the idea is to balance the wagers (on each side of a bet).

Betting horse racing is a little different than other sports.

“There are a variety of ways to bet; you can win your bet and still lose,” Forester said. ” Horse players are looking for a better value.”

He explained that with horse racing, once the house takes its percentage the remainder is split among the winners.

While many of the local establishments are linked to either Cal-Neva’s or Leroy’s sports books, Casino Fandango stands alone.

The difference is that at satellite sites, the odds or lines, are established by the parent organization and sent out to all locations. Casino Fandango, on the other hand, has the freedom to set its own odds, which are often more favorable for the customer.

“People love to bet and as they become more educated about it, through the Internet, ESPN and such, they’re trying to shop to get the best line,” said Walt Matson, Fandango’s sports book manager. “(A sports book) may have a point spread of 7, for instance, but (customers) are shopping for a (point spread) of 4 or 6.”

But the ways to bet within an event are as varied as the events to bet upon.

“There’s so much to bet on that at times, it’s hard to keep up with,” Matson said. “Often we’ll have customers ask why (a specific event) isn’t represented and we can give them odds in a couple of minutes.”

Forester explained that while games take at least a couple of hours, horse racing is unique in that it moves very quickly.

“There can also be eight or nine tracks going at the same time so the action is quick and people can place several bets at a time,” he said.

For the novice, there’s really nothing to fear.

Staff members can give a five minute tutorial on wagering.

“There’s a lot of variety and I would tell people don’t be intimidated by it,” Matson said. “After the 20th time, they know what’s up and want (staff) out of the way.”

While there’s no end to what can be wagered on, for Nevadans, football is the number one event, with odds on every team, and every conceivable combination already set for the 2009 season.

NASCAR and golf have a lot of interest when it comes to customers talking about it and watching it, Matson said, but very few dollars are bet on either sport.

“What we all hope for, is that customers will come in, place their bets, maybe have a meal and play games,” he said. “Sports books are just another little service we can offer to get customers to visit our establishments.”