The first official sports bets in Philadelphia weren’t even ten seconds old, and the SugarHouse already had a guaranteed winner.
They opened up a two-day testing phase at the Fishtown casino and invited six frequent customers to come and simultaneously place the first sports bets. SugarHouse has six windows, so each stepped on up shortly after 2 o’clock.
Eric Comp put $100 on the Rams to cover an 11.5-point spread against the Eagles.
His friend and co-worker, John Mitchell, acknowledged he was betting with his heart when he put $100 on the Eagles to cover the same 11.5-point spread against the Rams.
You know that emoji where the person is smacking itself on the head in exasperation? Insert it here.
One of those bets will win, one will lose, and the SugarHouse will gladly accept the Vig. But the fellas laughed it off. Such is the frivolity of sports betting among the general public. It’s much more intense and calculated for the pros, of course. But pros don’t get invited to such ceremonies.
This was all about the novices, which is fine. Squares are people, too.
Other than the odds screens being too slow to scrawl and the betting sheets a little too hard to read, the SugarHouse has a nice temporary setup. They’ll move into the Lucky Red gaming area across the casino some time next year.
“This city is very special and unique when it comes to sports and the fandom surrounding sports in this town,” said general manager Cheryl Duhon, who worked in casinos all across the country before joining the SugarHouse in late May. “We’re honored to be the first in Philly to get this launched. Everyone has been chomping at the bit to get this going.”
There were a few Flyers bets initially, despite them squandering a two-goal lead in the final minutes on Wednesday night in Calgary.
Kevin Konieczny, who went to Edison High and owns the Kensington Pub at Tioga & Collins, put $200 on the Orange & Black.
“I’ve waited 48 years for a Flyer to have my last name, so I had to bet the Flyers,” he said, jokingly referring to Travis Konecny. Such heart-driven strategy is music to the ears of bookies.
Nicole Stabile, of South Philly, had $200 on the Lakers covering a 2.5-point first-half spread against Houston (“The Rockets really have fallen off,” she explained) while George Fill (C.B. West grad) bet $500 on the Flyers, who next play on Friday at Edmonton.
At the same time, the Rivers Casino -- a sister property of the SugarHouse -- was opening across the state in Pittsburgh with an $11,000 bet on the Patriots, who are laying 2.5 to the Steelers on Sunday.
The profit margin for sportsbooks is about five percent, pretty small. So for them, it’s about collecting on the juice and getting fannies into the casino that might not otherwise have come.
“Sports betting here is overdue,” said Ben Cadman, a C.B. East grad who put $20 each on the Flyers and Seahawks. “Why should I have to give my money to Las Vegas? There’s no reason it shouldn’t be here.”
Estimates from SugarHouse executives varied for when their mobile sports betting app might be available in Pennsylvania from “hopeful for the Super Bowl” to “hopeful by the end of Q1” in 2020. The focus lately has been getting the retail sites rolling ... Initially, there will be four mobile kiosks at the SugarHouse. Technicians were still working on them Thursday afternoon ... The sportsbook at the SugarHouse is open from 2-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday. If all goes well with state regulators, it will open at 10 a.m. on Saturday in time for the first bowl games ... Because the food court is steps away, the waitress service at the sportsbook offers decent food options. A Geno’s cheesesteak wit is 10 bucks and domestic beers are 5 bucks, which isn’t terrible for a casino.
Carson Wentz’s injury pushed the Eagles line from plus-9 to at least plus-11. If it holds, and it should, it would be just the second time in 25 years that the defending Super Bowl champion was a double-digit underdog.
The only other time was in 1995 when the 49ers were 13.5-point 'dogs and won outright in Dallas with backup Elvis Grbac.
As sloppy as the Eagles have been on the field (6-7), they’ve been dreadful at the betting window with a 4-9 mark against the spread. Five of their last six had gone under before last week’s late flurry with the Cowboys. Remember, that game had been 6-0 at half and needed a 62-yard field goal to even get to six points.
The Rams (11-2) haven’t been much better against the spread lately, going 2-6-2 in their last 10. Their 15-6 loss at Chicago last week was easily their worst offensive showing of the year. Their previous low was a 23-20 win against Denver, which they followed up by hanging 39 on San Francisco the next week.
In the last two months, teams that lost on Sunday nights are 4-4 against the spread, but seven of those eight games have come in under. Vegas Vic’s over/under line on Thursday morning was 53.5.
Philly.com handicapper Vegas Vic’s pick for the first game of Week 15:
Delicious Thursday nighter for possibly the top spot in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Andy Reid has had the Chargers and Philip Rivers on a string the last four years, posting a 9-0 record straight up, and 7-2 against the spread. Including a 38-28 win at San Diego, oops, L.A., in the opener as a +3.5 point 'dog.
It appears as if both teams were looking ahead to this week, because both won, but both failed to cover. Speaking of the spread, Kaycee has been a YUGE money maker against the AFC West, covering 12 of the last 16. Seeing a bunch of -3.5s, so of course, we would buy the hook, make it a flat -3, and play the Chiefs.