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Sports betting: Unlike New Jersey, Pennsylvania sportsbooks have gambling on college games

Notes include the over in Vikings-Eagles and Vegas Vic's pick for Game 1 of Braves-Dodgers

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth (87) celebrates after Freiermuth scoring in the fourth quarter against Ohio State on Saturday. The Nittany Lions didn't win the game, but they did cover.
Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth (87) celebrates after Freiermuth scoring in the fourth quarter against Ohio State on Saturday. The Nittany Lions didn't win the game, but they did cover.Read moreTim Tai / Staff photographer

There is at least one difference in the regulations covering sports betting in Pennsylvania compared with New Jersey and Delaware. It might not mean anything today, but wait till March Madness rolls around and Villanova is a No. 1 seed.

In New Jersey, sportsbooks cannot offer college games involving schools located in the state (i.e. Rutgers, Seton Hall) nor on college events taking place within the state, such as  when Clemson plays Mississippi State in Newark in December. Given the state of New Jersey's college sports teams, it's a negligible factor.

But in Pennsylvania, where college sports is much healthier, that stipulation doesn't exist. Sports betting will be up and running in about a month or so and college games will be in play. From Temple football to La Salle basketball, sportsbooks in Pennsylvania  will be able to take action on local schools. And the Army-Navy game, too.

But the real appeal will be Penn State football and March Madness.

"It would have [been diminished] had college athletics not been part of the bill," said State Rep. Rob Matzie, a Democrat serving Allegheny/Beaver counties who drafted Pennsylvania's original sports-betting bill.

Schools, of course, say they are concerned sports betting will make their players vulnerable to fixers and point-shaving scams, though players always were susceptible when sports betting was underground. They'd like a cut of the action to help ensure the integrity of their sports.

Yeah, OK.

Vegas bookies will quickly point out that regulated sports betting is much safer than when the gangsters run things. Legitimate sportsbooks have seen betting irregularities and reported them to authorities.

New Jersey's prohibition on local schools isn't borne out of ignorance but rather of compromise. When State Sen. Ray Lesniak wrote New Jersey's  sports-betting bill in 2011, he needed the support of colleagues who weren't keen on ticking off Rutgers or the NCAA.

The sports-betting climate was very different back then.

Matzie said there was no real resistance to Pennsylvania's law until after a Supreme Court decision in May made it possible for states outside of Nevada to enact sports betting. Penn State even asked for a two-year moratorium so that it could study the matter.

"Let's face it," Matzie said, "it's a big business, especially at the Division I level. It's paying a lot of bills at those institutions. To turn and put a puritan hat on wouldn't have made any sense, quite frankly."

Eagles note of the week

The over for the Vikings-Eagles was getting heavy play as of Thursday afternoon, going from an opening of 44.5 points to 46.5 in some places, according to

The over is 2-2 for both the Eagles and Vikings this season, with the Eagles' two home games finishing under and the Vikings' two road games finishing over. No help there.

This is a little more obscure, but teams that played on the road the previous Thursday, like the Vikings did in L.A. to start Week 4, are 10-7-1 against the spread the following week over the last two years. The over in this trend also is 10-7-1.

With no Everson Griffen for the Vikings and the Eagles defense looking shaky, a play on the over seems like the best way to go.

Nitt happens

Penn State's late loss to Ohio State dropped its championship odds from 25-1 to 50-1, according to Westgate in Vegas. The Nittany Lions' biggest problem is beyond their control.

The Big Ten West is so lackluster that even if Penn State somehow wins the East, a win over the West probably won't carry much heft with the playoff selection committee. Wisconsin's home loss to BYU damaged more than the Badgers. Penn State will host Wisconsin on Nov. 10 and the Big Ten title game will be Dec. 1 in Indianapolis.Will two wins over the Badgers in less than a month mean much?

Sorry, but in order to get down on Penn State at this point, 50-1 odds are insufficient. Look elsewhere, such as Notre Dame at 18-1. Alabama, at -$125, is too prohibitive a favorite to get behind.

Look who’s talking

Mike Lombardi, Doug Pederson's old friend, will cohost a sports betting show from the Ocean Resort in Atlantic City starting later this month. The show is part of the  Vegas Sports and Information Network and will be heard on weekends beginning at 10 a.m. on SiriusXM (Channel 204) and streamed elsewhere.

Lombardi, a former NFL executive from Ocean City, N.J., made no friends in Philadelphia last year when he said Pederson "might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I've ever seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL."

This and that

William Hill-US on Thursday morning had the Flyers at 4-1 to win the Metropolitan Division and 30-1 to win the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Vegas were 8-1 to win the Cup while Pittsburgh and defending-champ Washington were among those at 10-1. … For the list of places in the area showing Saturday night's Conor McGregor-Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC bout, visit Comcast is charging $64.99 with its telecast starting at 8 p.m. McGregor (plus-$130) is an underdog to Nurmagomedov (minus-$150).

Vic’s pick

Handicapper Vegas Vic's look at Thursday night's late baseball game.

Double V is a little wary. The Dodgers are not starting Clayton Kershaw in Game 1. Hmmmmmm. They say that keeping Kershaw on regular rest and then having him available for a possible Game 5 is the reason. Well, what if they don't make a Game 5?

L.A. is going to throw Hyun-Jin Ryu and was exceptionally sharp the last three times out, allowing only one earned run over 19 innings. Then there's the Braves starter, Mike Foltynewicz, whose name is tough to pronounce and even harder to spell. Just call him Folty. Or Mike. Either way, he has been the horse of Atlanta's staff with 13 wins and a sweet 2.85 ERA. And he has been really tough on the road, allowing only four earned runs over the last 26 innings.

Not going to take the kids' college fund and bet it all, but will tickle the ATL to steal a game in LaLa Land. Putting up $50 to win back $85.

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