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The Secret Life Of A Bookie

Not All the Big Bets Are on Wall Street
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97

(continued from page 4)

CA: Are there certain cities that dominate the NFL football gambling market and thus have an impact nationally on the lines?

Pete: I would say the East Coast.

CA: In the case of the New York region, where the home NFL teams have been so bad in recent years, do the oddsmakers try to give more points to balance the books, because they know they are going to lose anyway?

Pete: Yes.

CA: So you're saying that setting the spread is not just a matter of determining who has a better team by what point total, but may also involve trying to direct an equal amount of betting to each side of the spread?

Pete: Yes, it's already built into the price. The oddsmakers build public opinion into their price. If a game is worth seven, they may start at eight, because they take the public's opinion into account.

CA: Do most New Yorkers bet on the Giants and the Jets when they get the points, because they are the hometown teams, or are they unemotional about it, betting on whoever they think is going to win the game, and cover the spread?

Pete: Most people today are unemotional. They go by the price. They will bet on or against their team. It really doesn't matter.

CA: What about college football?

Pete: You get a lot more fans who root for their college and bet no matter what. But again, you see, the whole thing of the line is not who's better; it doesn't really matter which team, A or B, is better, because the line means one thing. The oddsmakers are trying to put the line out where you get equal action on both sides. It doesn't mean that the team is that much better. They are just trying to encourage a two-sided business. I'm going to make my money on the commission.

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