ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 would've turned 27 today.
Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on Oct. 28, 1992, PASPA restricted regulated sports betting to primarily Nevada for 26 years. PASPA isn't with us anymore. The U.S. Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional in May 2018, setting off a bookmaking land rush around the nation.
Since the ruling, full-scale sportsbooks have opened in 11 new states, with New Jersey now rivaling Nevada as the largest sports betting market in the U.S. Garden State sportsbooks have taken more than $3 billion in bets in 16 months. Six-figure wagers are now common, and multiple New Jersey bookmakers accepted $1 million bets on this year's World Series.
The temporary sportsbook venues in Atlantic City casinos that just last year resembled concession stands have been replaced by spacious areas that look a lot like those in Las Vegas, complete with monster, wall-to-wall video boards and lines of people wanting to bet.
An hour before the early NFL kickoffs on Sunday at Bally's beautiful sportsbook, a line of roughly 30 people formed in front of the betting windows. The sportsbooks at the Tropicana casino, Ocean Resort and The Borgata in Atlantic City also were busy Sunday.
Tom Gable, director of race and sports for The Borgata, said he has been impressed by the accelerated growth of the New Jersey market post-PASPA.
"On the retail side, there obviously was a pent-up demand for sports betting and the commercial experience that comes with going to a sportsbook to bet and watch a big game," Gable told ESPN. "We've seen it with the success of our new $12 million venue, Moneyline Bar & Book. It has allowed millions of people to enjoy an experience they could only previously get by jumping on a plane and flying to Vegas."
Live from Atlantic City, here is this week's edition of Notable Bets, our recap of sports betting storylines from around the nation.
NFL notable bets
Bettors hold their own
• Bettors held their own Sunday, limiting sportsbooks to small winning days or even losses, as was the case for Caesars Sportsbook.
• Caesars Sportsbook senior oddsmaker Alan Berg said the best games for the house were the Tennessee Titans' covering the spread in a 27-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Oakland Raiders' covering the spread in a 27-24 loss the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers' covering in a 51-13 rout of the Carolina Panthers.
Berg said the Los Angeles Rams' covering in a 24-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in London and the New England Patriots' covering in a 27-13 win over the Cleveland Browns were the most costly games for the book.
"It was almost identical as far how much we won and lost on those games," Berg said. "And the rest were kind of a mixed bag of small wins or small losses."
"We just didn't win a lot of games," Tony DiTommaso, director of risk management for CG Technology, told ESPN. "The only good game for us was the Niners, but that was a bad game for us on parlays."
Popular Panthers disappoint
• The Panthers were a popular pick among professional players, sportsbooks said. Carolina opened as a 6.5-point underdog, but the line was bet down to as low as -4 by kickoff.
"Some big-time players really liked the Panthers," Berg said. "The handle was really big on that game, too."
• MGM sportsbook in Nevada reported taking three $100,000 bets on the Panthers from the same customer on Sunday. The bettor took Carolina +4.5 for one bet and had two bets at +4. "At one point, I saw the in-game line come across at Panthers +40.5," said Jeff Stoneback, director of sports for MGM in Nevada. "That basically made our day."
• The Indianapolis Colts were included in more parlays and teasers than any other team at the sportsbook at The Borgata in Atlantic City. The Colts failed to cover as six-point favorites in a 15-13 win.
• The largest reported bet by The Borgata was six figures on over 40.5 in the Jets-Jaguars game. The game went over the total.
• "The morning NFL games were really good," John Murray, executive director for the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, said in an email. "But we got crushed on the Patriots in the afternoon. We had almost 6-to-1 tickets on the Patriots, but the line went Patriots -13 to -10 at kickoff. That one hurt."
• MGM sportsbooks experienced a similar swing on New England's win over the Browns. "This morning was a very small win," said Jeff Stoneback, director of sports for MGM's Nevada books. "We're going to give about 60% of it back on this New England game, though."
• The return of Drew Brees to the New Orleans Saints' starting lineup caused a nearly three-point swing in the line. The Saints opened as consensus 9.5-point home favorites over the Arizona Cardinals. After reports surfaced Saturday that Brees would return after missing five games with a thumb injury, the line climbed all the way to 12.5. Brees had a big game, as the Saints pulled away from the Cardinals in the second half of a 31-9 win.
• Bookmaker PointsBet, which operates in Iowa and New Jersey, reported a balanced Sunday for the house. "Not the best, not the worst," Patrick Eichner, director of communications for PointsBet, told ESPN.
• "If the Packers win and cover and the total goes over, we'd definitely have a losing day," Caesars' Berg said. Green Bay won and covered 31-24 in a game that went over the total.
Early Week 9 lines
From Caesars Sportsbook, at completion of Sunday night game.
San Francisco 49ers (-8.5, 43.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Houston Texans (-3, 47) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London)
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5, 43.5)
Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers (Pk, 43.5)
Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs (Off)
New York Jets (-5.5, 41) at Miami Dolphins
Tennessee Titans at Carolina Panthers (-3.5, 40)
Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills (-9.5, 36.5)
Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders (-2, 51.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5, 53.5)
Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos (-1.5, 42.5)
Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Chargers (Off)
New England Patriots (-4, 44.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Byes: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints
College football roundup
• Saturday was the second-best college football day of the season for the SuperBook.
• Ohio State has moved into the role of cofavorite to win the national championship at multiple sportsbooks. Here are the updated odds to win the title at Caesars Sportsbook:
Ohio State 11-4
Penn State 12-1
• Kansas State upset Oklahoma as a 23.5-point favorite and 12-1 on the money line. Bookmaker William Hill had a pair of $100 money-line bets on the Wildcats that returned a net $1,200. On the other side, the book took a $5,040 money-line bet on the Sooners at -2,400 odds. The bet would have returned a net $210.
• Updated odds to win the Heisman Trophy at the SuperBook:
• A pitching change a few hours before Game 5 of the World Series had bookmakers and bettors questioning how baseball is bet in Las Vegas, as it impacted a nearly $300,000 bet.
Traditionally, U.S. bookmakers have offered baseball bettors the option of specifying that the listed starting pitchers must start for the bet to be valid. Or bettors can choose "action," meaning their bet is on even if there is a pitching change. However, if you bet "action" and there is a pitching change, the bookmaker has the power to adjust the odds on the bet to reflect the new pitching matchup.
"The general public usually bets action," the MGM's Stoneback said. "The professionals play the listed pitchers."
On Sunday afternoon, the Washington Nationals scratched ace Max Scherzer ahead of Game 5 and replaced him with righty Joe Ross. With Gerrit Cole on the mound, the Houston Astros went from around -150 favorites to -235 favorites after Scherzer was scratched.
Earlier in the day, prior to the pitching change, Las Vegas bookmaker Circa Sports took a $298,000 bet on the Astros at -149 odds to win $200,000. The bettor chose not to specify that the listed pitchers must be Cole and Scherzer.
When Scherzer was scratched, Circa Sports readjusted the price to Houston -235, meaning the big bettor would now be in line for a $137,000 net profit if the Astros prevailed.
"The most important thing with putting up that adjusted price is what we consider to be fair," Circa bookmaker Chris Bennett said. "It's this weird thing where the books have a lot of power to name their price."
The Astros won 7-1 and now lead the series three games to two.
New Jersey sports betting
What the pros say
ESPN Chalk asked three professional sports bettors who are active in New Jersey if sports betting expansion has had a positive impact, negative impact or no impact on their business. Here is what they said:
• "For me, the New Jersey outs were great until I got booted or limited. I still have a handful of joints I play in, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't affect me either way." -- professional sports bettor Gadoon Kyrollos
• "With each state that legalizes sports wagering, we have a new take on the repeal of PASPA. Pro bettors in some states have it much better than professionals in others states. As a pro in New Jersey, it is better than it was before the repeal. However, I look at other states, and I don't think I would say the same.
"In the end, pro bettors are consumers in this market -- a very small and sometimes unwanted part of the spectrum but part of that bettor spectrum nonetheless. Markets, which are good for the consumer, are also good for the pro bettor as well. The tide lifts all boats." -- professional gambler who goes by the pseudonym Jack Andrews
• "As a pro bettor, it hasn't affected me that much. If New Jersey books were taken away, I'd still be a pro bettor. If my offshores or my locals were taken away, then I couldn't be a pro bettor, to a degree. I wouldn't be able to bet what I wanted, and it might not be worth it.
"It's had a negative effect on me, in some ways, because of how the New Jersey books treat pro bettors." -- New Jersey professional bettor Joe Fortuna
What industry stakeholders say
• "The market has been performing pretty much as I expected. Although many had their doubts about the potential, I'd say $3 billion in handle for the first year is extremely healthy and will continue to grow. I believe there is still substantial growth opportunities as technology, in-play and more companies join the market." -- Dennis Drazin, who operates Monmouth Park racetrack in New Jersey and was a key leader in the state's sports betting fight
• "I'm surprised sports betting hasn't swept throughout the nation, considering its huge success in New Jersey. Yet New York and California haven't yet taken advantage of its success." -- New Jersey state senator Raymond Lesniak, who spearheaded New Jersey's bid to take down PASPA
• "The state of New Jersey was thoughtful in setting up the regulations and the model to be a success, with a fair tax rate for the operators and the ability for consumers to easily access a user-friendly mobile sports application. Because online gaming had been legalized a few year prior, the framework for mobile already existed, and many of the potential issues such as geolocation and payment processing had already been tested and were in place. So it was a natural extension for sports to fit into that online model. To the credit of the state, they allowed customers to register online (anytime, anywhere in the state of New Jersey), rather than having to physically go to a casino to create an online account. That ease of use -- the option to play from the comfort of their home -- has been very beneficial to the consumer and has allowed online to thrive." -- Tom Gable, director of race & sports for The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
Odds & ends
• Golf: Tiger Woods won the Zozo Championship in a Monday finish in Japan. Woods closed at 30-1 to win the tournament at Caesars Sportsbook.
• NBA: A bettor at PointsBet placed a special $25 bet on the Golden State Warriors against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. In what's called a "Points Bet," the bettor risked $25 for every point by which the Warriors covered the two-point spread. The Thunder won by 28, and the bettor lost $750.