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April 20, 2014

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Slow week for handicappers and sports book officials isn’t so slow anymore

With football on the horizon, some are using MLB all-star break to recharge for upcoming football season

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Stephen Sylvanie / Special to the Sun

A sports bettor takes down some notes at one of the booths inside the new William Hill Race & Sports Book at the Plaza Hotel after the grand opening on Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013.

Ted Sevransky considers the next two days the end of summer.

From professional handicappers such as Sevransky to recreational gamblers who put in parlays on their lunch break, this is the slowest week of the year because Major League Baseball is dark until Friday for the all-star break. With the exception of foreign soccer leagues, a handful of women’s basketball games and the all-star game, there isn’t much to wager during the four days — especially the two days after the all-star game.

That gives handicappers and sports book officials a chance to take a much-needed break. Football is king, and for some in the industry, all attention heads to the gridiron after the few days of downtime.

“I can’t believe you are calling me during my off time,” Sevransky jokingly said when contacted by the Sun.

Added Ken Miller, the spokesperson for Cantor Gaming: “This is a great time for the staff to catch up on vacations. There is the all-star game and some all-star props, but this is the calm before the storm. It’s not a bad thing to take a vacation in July.”

Jimmy Vacarro, the spokesperson for William Hill, has been involved in oddsmaking for more than 30 years. He remembers a time in Las Vegas when certain properties wouldn’t even post business hours during the days after the all-star game.

But that was more than three decades ago. Nowadays, a majority of properties have betting numbers posted on all 17 weeks of the NFL regular season, win totals for college and professional football, and other football-related proposition wagers.

“Everybody handles (the slow days) a little different, but it is not as dead as it used to be,” Vacarro said. “Thirty years ago, a few places in town would take Monday and Wednesday off. You used to be able to close your eyes for a few days, but now it’s not a complete turn-off. ”

That’s how Sevransky, who is better known as “Teddy Covers,” feels.

When he arrived in Las Vegas in the summer of 1998, only a handful of books had win-total bets available in late June. But with virtually all properties currently having a wide range of football future bets, Sevransky and other sharp bettors have altered their schedules.

This year, he’s taking just one day off during the all-star game break. The other three days, he’ll continue the heavy lifting for football — he’s already placed some season win-total wagers.

“I’ve always said the all-star break is when the summer ends, and that’s still true,” Sevransky said. “But I’ve had to adjust my schedule to get more (studying) done in May and June.”

Most race and sports books will have just a handful of patrons the next few days because of the limited games available to bet. And those, sports such as women’s basketball, receive minor interest.

Miller and Vacarro each said some of their customers are tourists looking to place a future bet on the team from their hometown or college alma mater.

“If you come to town and you are from Jacksonville, Fla., or Buffalo, N.Y., you can say ‘Give me (a future bet) on the Bills or Jaguars. That way I can root for them all year,’” Vacarro said. “Once again, 30 years ago, we wouldn’t have had all those possibilities.”

And, as officials are quick to point out, those possibilities also include the race book. They anticipate a spike of business on that side of the counter this week with the track openings at Del Mar and Saratoga.

“Horses are a constant, but we always run into the same problem,” Vacarro said. “Horses attract an older clientele instead of younger kids. Young kids don’t want to stare at a racing form for an hour and a half to make a bet.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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