By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
If you bet New Mexico State plus the 5 or 6 points against Auburn in Thursday’s first round of the NCAA Tournament, you have a winning ticket.
Even if you bet it at the Santa Ana Star Casino’s sportsbook.
Of course, if you bet the Aggies on the money line (winning team), I feel for you. Lay it in A.J. Harris! Force overtime!
What was that? And Terrell Brown — they are called free throws for a reason!
But that’s another story.
Back to the winning bets — actually bets — if you wagered on the game at Santa Ana. I’ve been assured by executives at Santa Ana and Las Vegas-based USBookmaking, which provides the sports betting services for the casino, that the winning tickets will be honored.
The casino, which became New Mexico’s first with a sportsbook last fall, doesn’t put the University of New Mexico or New Mexico State wagers on the board. The hope, of course, is to reduce the temptation of point shaving — something I will deal with down the road in much more depth.
However, the 12th-seeded Aggies did slip into the wagering world at Santa Ana earlier this week for their game against 5th-seeded Auburn before folks at the casino realized it. The game was soon taken off the board when the mistake was learned.
But not before some bets were placed.
How many, is still a question.
I got a heads up on Tuesday night that while the game, indeed, was not on the board, betting on the first half line was still available on a kiosk.
That was was no longer available on Wednesday night. Believe me, I tried to get it.
On Thursday morning, the Albuquerque Journal published a story in which Santa Ana CEO John Cirrincione said two $50 wagers did go through on NMSU (final score), and those bets would be honored if they were winners. They were. The Aggies lost 79-78 so, the point spread bets were winners.
But how about any other bets that could have been placed on the game? What about those who had the over/under (145 to 146) or a halftime bet.
I contacted a supervisor at Santa Ana on Thursday, who hadn’t heard about the newspaper story and said he didn’t think it was possible that anyone could have bet the game there. But after reaching other officials and returning a call to Enchantment Sports, he said there were two wagers placed on the game. He said he was told those were the only two tickets the casino was aware of.
However, there is at least one more ticket — and it’s the dude in the photo above.
ProView Networks’ Sebastian Noel placed a first-half wager on the Aggies plus 3.5 points at a kiosk. Even though the game had been removed, it was still available for first-half wagering.
And that, too, was a winner. The Ags trailed just 32-29 at the half.
An official at USBookmaking told me that “if the halftime lines were on the kiosk, that was probably something that came from our end” and wasn’t discovered right away.
But you’re good too, Sebastian. Both USBookmaking and Santa Ana officials said any bets that slipped through would be paid.
I haven’t heard from anyone about betting the over/under for the game or the first half. Stay tuned.
I’ve been getting inundated with inquiries from folks about the ‘whos, whats, wheres whys and hows’ of about sports wagering since the sportsbook opened — and the questions have been on overload with this week March Madness.
Hmm. Not sure why me. It’s not like I go to Vegas sportsbooks a dozen times a year.
I actually helped a few folks out by providing some information about what parlays, teasers and such were, while I was at the casino on Wednesday night and again on Thursday. I totally understand the confusion for many. It can be sensory overload to those unfamiliar to sports betting.
Same goes for the casinos trying to get the books up and organized.
Now that Buffalo Thunder Hotel & Casino has opened its sportsbook — with other Indian casinos planning to follow — I know I will get bombarded with more questions in the near future.
No sweat. I plan to answer many of those on this site. Email me with questions, and I’ll respond to each.
Obviously, there won’t be any similar NMSU questions the rest of this season.
DANCING TO THE BLUES, AGAIN: The Aggies’ NCAA Tournament losing streak is really eye-popping. And it’s longer than most folks realize.
The Aggies haven’t officially won an NCAA Tournament game since 1970.
Huh? What about the Sweet 16 in 1992, Smith? And the win in 1993?
Remember, those were all vacated by the NCAA. Good ole Neal McCarthy.
Thus, the last official Aggie win came in the now-defunct consolation game in the Final Four in 1970, when Lou Henson’s bunch with Sam Lacey, Jimmy Collins and Charlie Criss beat St. Bonaventure — which had to play its two Final Four games without injured future NBA Hall of Famer Bob Lanier.
Can someone tell me how that was almost 50 years ago? Ugh.
And yes, UCLA beat the Ags in the national semifinals that year.
Video Highlights of NMSU vs. UCLA 1970 Final Four- video courtesy of Youtube
The Amazing Aggies from the past have become flat-out amazing for the opposite reasons since. Even counting the three vacated wins during the 1992-93 tournaments, NMSU has still lost 12 straight NCAA Tournament games. It has been a double-digit seed in its last 11 tournament appearances, and that’s not going to change until the Aggies finally win a game or two in the event one of these years.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com