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Sports Books Prep For Start Of College, NFL Football

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(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) can't get to the ball as Arizona Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson (21) defends during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018.

Somehow, some way … football season is almost here again. 

That means big business for Nevada's sports books, whose handle on football games helps their bottom lines each year. 

Who do books think will have standout seasons?

Art Manteris, vice president of race and sports books at Station Casinos, told State of Nevada the top teams continue to be the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.

But he said the Los Angeles Rams have also drawn some money. 

As for the Raiders, Manteris said they are also drawing bets.

"But they're not a real long shot like they might have been a couple of years ago," he said.

Because of the team's new coach and the new excitement around the team the Raiders are sitting in the 18-1 and 20-1 range, which he thinks is actually a little short.

The longest shot in the NFL remains the Cleveland Browns -- but people are still betting on them.

"The Browns are always one of the longest shots on the board, as they are this year," he said. "They would be the worst-case scenario for us right now. Not a disaster but not something I would like to see happen."

He said people bet on longshots because at 100-1, it is like having a lottery ticket.

When it comes to a longshot in college football, Manteris said unfortunately that distinction goes to UNLV and University of Nevada, Reno.

"They are not one of the favorites to win the NCAA championship," he said.

The odds for both teams sit at 800-1. Manteris said he would love to pay out that bet, but he's not expecting to.

The favorite in college is Alabama -- again.

"It will be surprising if they are not in the conversation at the end of the year," he said.

Manteris recommends looking to "second-tier teams" to find the real value bets. He said Georgia or USC could be good bets. He also said people can look for small teams and individual games to make bets and possibly make money.

Manteris said overall, the whole industry is continuing to do well.

"Across the board, sports handle are very strong again in 2018," he said. "Twenty-seventeen was phenomenal, and we're really seeing the excitement of sports wagering continue to grow and continue to thrive."

And while he's taking a wait-and-see approach to the expansion of sports betting across the country, he does like that sports leagues, sports broadcasters, and sports books seem to be working on "parallel paths."

He said they all have the same goals of integrity and popularity of the games. He likes the idea of them working hand-in-hand for those objectives.

Art Manteris, vice president of race and sports, Station Casinos

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)