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Book Operators Yawn at NBA Season

January 7, 1999

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Sports book operators reacted to the end of the NBA lockout with a collective yawn.

The loss of the first three months of the pro basketball season had little impact on betting business, bookies said.

``The NBA hasn’t been missed very much at all,″ said Joe Lupo, Stardust hotel-casino sports book director. ``I know we would rather have it, but it just hasn’t been missed. We haven’t lost any money by not booking it.″

Lupo said the NBA will be more important to sports books in April and May following the college basketball season, but that it is not a big betting sport.

``The NBA is not a big revenue producer,″ Lupo said. ``It isn’t like we lost a lot of revenue by not having the NBA.″

Excalibur hotel-casino sports book supervisor Richard Saber said the lockout also had little effect on his business.

``I don’t think there is any difference, in effect, if they played or didn’t play,″ Saber said. ``Even when they were playing, no one seemed to care.″

Saber said bettors had lots of other things to put their money on while the NBA wasn’t playing.

``We were talking the other day how not one person has even mentioned it,″ he said. ``We didn’t have one person come in and say, ‘When is the NBA coming back?’ We didn’t have anyone who missed it.″

Saber said if the NBA lockout had not been settled, most of the money that would have been bet on the NBA would have been bet on college basketball.

``The NBA is not one of our bigger betting sports,″ Saber said. ``The only thing we take less on is the NHL. (The NBA) is a very small percentage of our handle.″

But, the NBA settlement was good news to at least one sports book. Norm Kelley, assistant sports book manager at Sam’s Town casino, said he will be glad to see the games begin.

``Once football is over, most of our bettors turn to basketball,″ Kelley said. ``Although college basketball gets quite a bit of play, pro basketball is what most of our players play.″

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