Las Vegas craps out on CFB title game: 'One of the worst losses ever'

"As bad as a result as humanly possible," one sportsbook manager said.
By Doug G. Ware  |  Updated Jan. 11, 2017 at 11:20 AM
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LAS VEGAS, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Alabama fans apparently weren't the only ones rooting for the Crimson Tide to win another college football crown. As it turns out, Las Vegas sportsbook managers were also huge Bama fans.

Oddsmakers in Sin City took a huge loss in Monday night's college football national championship, which was won 35-31 by second-ranked Clemson in the game's final seconds.

According to gambling officials, bettors overwhelmingly put big money on Clemson -- between $15-$20 million -- as the underdog in the title matchup. When Alabama -- a 6 and-a-half point favorite -- lost, so did Vegas.

"It was as bad as a result as humanly possible," Nick Bogdanovich, a veteran Las Vegas bookmaker, told ESPN Tuesday.

Caesars Entertainment sportsbook director, Bill Sattler, in fact, called the Tigers' victory "the worst loss in any college football game I can remember."

According to CBS Sports, The Wynn suffered a loss in the high six-figures and MGM Resorts in the low six-figures.

"It was one of the worst college football losses we've ever had, definitely one of the top three," MGM sports book manager Jeff Stoneback said. "The [total amount bet] was phenomenal. We handled more on that game than any two of the NFL wild-card games combined."

Bookmakers try to spread the money out evenly on both sides so that winnings are offset by losses. Because a vast majority of gamblers bet on Clemson -- by about a 2-to-1 margin -- and the books were not able to make up the difference before game time, Vegas had a strong financially-rooted interest in Alabama winning.

The Crimson Tide led Clemson for nearly the entire ballgame, not surrendering the lead until late in the fourth quarter. Alabama retook the lead on a touchdown with 2:07 left in the game.

Wynn sports book director John Avello said he felt sick after that score, realizing that Clemson -- and superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson -- had a full 2:07 to punch-in the game-winning touchdown. The Tigers needed just 2:06.

Alabama opened last week as a 7-point favorite and that margin dropped to 6 and-a-half by game time, an effort to get more people to bet on the Tide. It didn't work.

"You book the game as best you can, you let the players play it and that's all you can do," Avello said. "It happens. That's sports."

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