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Despite economic woes, people continue to bet big on NFL

Betting on games continues to be steady despite recession. 'There's something about sports in hard times that it survives,' says one resort official in Las Vegas.

September 18, 2009|Steve Rosenbloom

The economy is healthy when it comes to betting on the NFL.

"Football is America's game," said John Avello, executive director of race and sports operations at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. "People seem to have money for it.

"Maybe the bettor thinks he can hit eight of 10 straight bets. But we anticipated the bettors being here [for the first weekend of the NFL season], and they were."

Avello said the Wynn saw action from the squares betting $10 to the whales betting thousands.

"Sports in general hasn't fallen off," Avello said. "There's something about sports in hard times that it survives."

Avello said that Week 2 of the NFL might be an even bigger betting Sunday.

"Eighty percent of the games were early and there were only three in the afternoon, but only two were good viewing games," Avello said. "This week will be a better mix with nine games in the morning and five in the afternoon.

"The Steelers-Bears is a great viewing game," Avello said, echoing the ratings record for NBC's broadcast.

"We'll write a lot of money on that one. Bears fans put their money where their mouths are. When expectations are good for the Bears like this year, the betting's up even more.

"And people tend to like betting favorites [such as defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh]."

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srosenbloom@tribune.com

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