Twenty-one leading handicappers, bettors, oddsmakers and bookmakers participated in Friday night's Super Bowl seminar at the Las Vegas Hilton and the final tally was Pittsburgh 11, Seattle 10. Some prognosticators picked the Steelers to win but the Seahawks to cover, some forecast a Steelers' blowout and a few chose Seattle in a cliffhanger. No accord was reached on what the magic number -- 4, 4 1/2, 5 or higher -- would or should be, or whether a record handle would be set.
The spead was bouncing between 4 and 4 1/2 Saturday, though, like Elvis sightings, reports that 5s were available for Seahawks players persisted. The total held strong at 47. Oddsmaker Kenny White, who services the Hilton as well as most Nevada books along with offshore clients, said action was good at 4 and is even better at 4 1/2 -- most of it on Pittsburgh and the props. "Four's a good number, 4 1/2 a little more so," said White, who originally shipped it at 3. Bookmaker John Avello pointed out the Super Bowl line normally is a little inflated.
"The money's on Pittsburgh," Avello said. "Seattle hasn't developed a following and it's a small market." "We opened 3 1/2 and quickly went to 4," said MGM-Mirage's Robert Walker. "You can feel the Steelers' momentum. "Nobody's buying the Seahawks; most bettors don't know where Seattle is. Seattle has no fan base.
"Four of every five bets over $10,000 we've taken have been on Pittsburgh." Stardust Race and Sports Director Bob Scucci said early money was on Pittsburgh and continued to come in on the Steelers at a 2/1 ratio. "We've written about three times as many tickets on the Steelers as on the Seahawks," Scucci said. "It's very one-sided." Jay Kornegay, the Hilton's race and sports director, advised listeners to watch what happens on both sides of the counter during the four to five hours leading up to kickoff. "The last four hours is when the money shows," noted veteran bookmaker Jimmy Vacarro.
Participants observed the Super Bowl had become an event unto itself -- a national holiday -- and that people really don't care who's playing. "We made it an event," Vacarro said. That's why some believe handle will surpass last year's record.
"You have another major resort this year, Wynn Las Vegas," Walker said. "You should bring in more people. "And Pittsburgh's a public team. "The thing is, we haven't taken and I don't forsee getting any seven-figure bets.
" "It is what it is," Avello added. "Arizona-Houston?" conceded Vaccaro. "Well, I don't know how much of an event that would be, but we're gaining momentum every year.
" Those who were interviewed in person or on the phone were asked for Super Bowl predictions. Here's how some responded: JIMMY VACARRO (former Las Vegas bookmaker, offshore consultant and present marketing director for Leroy's): Pittsburgh 31, Seattle 28. JOHN AVELLO (former Bally's and Paris Race and Sports Book manager who joined Wynn Las Vegas last summer): Pittsburgh 24, Seattle 17. RICHIE BACCELLIERI (Palms race and sports director, longtime Caesars Palace employee): Seattle 24, Pittsburgh 17.
JAY KORNEGAY (race and sports director at Hilton SuperBook; cut teeth at Imperial Palace): Pittsburgh 31, Seattle 17. DAVE TULEY (Las Vegas correspodent for the Daily Racing Form who authors weekly NFL column): Seattle 23, Pittsburgh 17. ROBERT WALKER (Race and sports director for MGM-Mirage, oversees 13 bet shops; paid dues at Stardust): Pittsburgh 27, Seattle 21. BOB SCUCCI (Stardust race and sports director, miving to Atlantic City in June): Seattle 24, Pittsburgh 21. KENNY WHITE (owner of Las Vegas Sports Consultants): Pittsburgh 27, Seattle 24. .
By: Brian Gabrielle