The Empire Slate: Bills Are A Major Liability For Sportsbooks

Heavy action has poured in on Buffalo heading into Thursday's season opener in Los Angeles
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“The Empire Slate” is a weekly look at betting angles and trends involving New York sports.

When the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes in overtime to beat the Buffalo Bills in last year’s AFC divisional game, many NFL fans viewed that victory as the equivalent of a free pass to the Super Bowl.

The Cincinnati Bengals, of course, had other notions. As touchdown underdogs, they shocked the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game before losing a competitive Super Bowl to the Los Angeles Rams.

Now, eight months later, we have even more reason to think that that early-round playoff matchup was, indeed, viewed as the Super Bowl before the Super Bowl. The Bills are drawing so much action from bettors going into Thursday night’s NFL season kickoff vs. those Rams that you’d think they were the ones to have won that game, not to mention the two that followed it.

Lines move amid heavy Bills betting

At BetMGM, the Bills opened as the favorites and have continued to receive the most bets to win the AFC East, AFC, and Super Bowl. That book has lowered its odds repeatedly without appreciably slowing the action pouring in on Buffalo.

BetMGM opened Thursday’s game as Bills -1. It has since moved to Bills -2.5. Similarly, BetRivers said the Bills are its greatest liability in all relevant NFL futures, and after opening the game against the Rams at pick‘em, it’s now moved the Bills to 2.5-point favorites.

“Buffalo has received consistent action from sharp and casual bettors,” BetMGM’s Christian Cipolini said.

At WynnBET, the Bills are the book’s third-biggest liability, but “by far” its biggest ticket taker. WynnBET opened the Rams at -1 for Thursday as well, but adjusted the line over concerns about quarterback Matthew Stafford’s elbow soreness over the summer, though the team has downplayed such concerns. Due to continued action on the Bills, the book has left the Bills at -2.5 even after Rams coach Sean McVay insisted Stafford is fine.

“I could see it getting to 2 before kickoff, but there is a lot to like with this Bills team,” said WynnBET trader Andy Morrissey.

Other New York books have gravitated to Bills -2.5, with DraftKings, PointsBet, FanDuel, Resorts World, Bally Bet, and Caesars Sportsbook all offering them at that number as of Thursday morning.

According to Vegas Insider, 56% of the bets and 73% of the money have come in on Buffalo nationally, which helps explain all those line moves. Much like the Raiders often are a liability at the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in Las Vegas nowadays, much of the Bills’ power to move lines stems from their location in the Empire State, now the sports betting capital of the country.

Baseball-a-palooza on Wednesday

If you missed Chris Altruda’s excellent piece on the surge of betting New York’s sportsbooks can expect from this NFL season, read it right here. Using his shrewd and highly scientific methods, Altruda estimates that New York bettors will risk about $1.9 billion on all sports in October, roughly double what they wagered in July.

In other words, the NFL is still king, even in a great baseball town like New York.

However, for the baseball betting public, there’s still plenty of action left in what should be two thrilling months. Wednesday was like paradise for New York baseball fans. Both the Mets and Yankees played doubleheaders, the second time this season they’ve done so on the same day.

Unlike on May 8, when both teams split their doubleheaders, they each swept their opponent on Wednesday. That made it a landmark day for both teams, which are desperately trying to protect division leads. The Mets went from seven games up on Aug. 8 to tied with the Braves atop the NL East on Sept. 6. That one’s going to be close, as the Mets have just a half-game lead for the division title, which carries a crucial first-round playoff bye.

The Yankees went from 15.5 games up on July 8 to four games up on Sept. 4. The Yanks now lead by five games with only 25 games left. Despite their shaky play, they still are in excellent shape for a first-round bye.

The Mets have actually jumped ahead of the Yankees in World Series futures, with the Amazins now the No. 3 choice behind L.A. and Houston at +500 and the Yankees at +550, just ahead of the Braves at +800. That Braves number is awfully enticing given their 30-13 record since the All-Star break.

New betting anchor arrives

MSG Networks has hired MLB Network host Keiana Martin to work on its new Odds With Ends weekly gambling show, which will air Friday at 5 p.m. with former Jets safety Eric Coleman and sports betting expert Sean Little.

Martin previously was a sideline reporter for the San Francisco 49ers. She also will appear regularly across the network’s shows featuring gambling programming during the NFL, NBA, and NHL seasons.

Other guests expected on the Odds With Ends show are former Giants receiver David Tyree and Bally Sports reporter Sarina Morales. The network also has two other gambling shows, The Bettor Half Hour and The Betting Exchange, that will continue to air Monday through Thursday.

Oneidas announce expansion plans

The Oneida Indian Nation announced plans this week to embark on the biggest expansion of its Turning Stone Resort Casino in the last 20 years. The tribe said the multi-year project will double the size of the existing convention and meeting space and include a new hotel with about 250 rooms, along with new dining options and outdoor spaces.

The Oneidas are teaming with Syracuse-based Hayner Hoyt as the general contractor and, according to the tribe’s press release, will use workers affiliated with New York trade unions. The architects for the project come from the Gensler architecture and design firm. Groundbreaking is expected sometime next year.

Those interested in working at Turning Stone can attend a hiring event there on Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Photo: David Butler/USA TODAY

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