By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
Throughout the NFL season, Spread the News will provide various information about local sports betting, horrific beats, backdoors, tips and you name it.
I will also answer all sports betting questions anyone has. Feel free to send your inquiries to mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.
If I don’t know the answer I will find someone who does.
That’s a lock.
But I don’t just write about sports betting. I live it.
If you’re looking for some schmuck to tell you about trends and turf toes, this isn’t the place.
Sure, I will make some picks from time to time — as well the Enchantment Sports staffers.
And we could have a big surprise in store as well. Keep checking back for updates.
But this column is more about how to bet, and not who to bet on, and the wacky and wild world of sports gaming.
And a lot of firsthand experience at he local establishments.
The goal is to increase the sports bettor’s knowledge while keeping the local books in line with their lines.
And of course, providing some entertainment.
After all, sports betting — like casino gambling — is for entertainment purposes only, right? It’s a break-even proposition for the Indian gaming folks, after all, correct?
JOIN THE CLUB – OR BYE, BYE: Isleta Resort & Casino recently opened its temporary sportsbook — but only to those who sign up for the casino’s Player’s Club card.
If you don’t have the card, you can’t place a sports wager. In other words, you must give Isleta all your personal information before you can bet your personal favorites.
During the past two weeks, a trio of would-be sports bettors told me they left the casino because they just wanted to place a bet, but wanted to remain completely anonymous and not sign up for a player’s card.
And I get that. Especially since Isleta takes wagers on the New Mexico Lobos and New Mexico State Aggies.
It’s great Isleta has the Lobos and Ags on the board. But in this insane politically correct “let’s boycott everyone” day and age, I can’t blame bettors from wanting total privacy.
No, I can’t imagine ticket writers are going to say anything about who is betting what. And yes, there’s always the kiosks –although they have much lower limits.
But say you’re a local business owner and a Lobo booster, and you don’t want anyone to know you just dropped a dime against the hometown heroes. You might not want to have a player’s card with your name on it. And that should be your prerogative.
Enchantment Sports emailed Jaci Marx, Isleta’s director of marketing, to ask why the casino requires sports bettors to have a player’s card.
“Currently, Isleta Resort and Casino has required Bingo Players Club cards for years,” Marx said in an email, “so we decided to follow suit with Sports Book in order to be able to market directly to Sports betting fans and to provide them with Sports Book only promotions such as Big Game giveaways.”
But does every sports bettor really want Isleta promotion mailers sent to their home? Particularly those who might not want anyone in that home knowing they like to engage in the gaming activity from time to time?
And there are surely others with reasons for not wanting any their gaming information public.
It’s an interesting marketing ploy, but one that might not go over so well with everyone.
EVERYONE’S A LOBO?: While on the subject of locals and anti-Lobo betting, many folks obviously did just that on Saturday when UNM played at Notre Dame.
And it paid off.
Notre Dame was favored by 35 points on nearly all national lines. At Isleta, the line was 38. That surprised me, because it meant Lobo backers would get an extra three points — normally huge in betting.
Not so much for UNM.
But I doubt there were many Lobo backers, or the line would have been lower. And for those wise enough to shed those cherry-and-silver colored glasses, they cashed in. The Irish destroyed the Lobos 66-14, and backers never had to flinch after the second quarter.
IS LIVE BETTING DEAD?: One of the most intriguing ways to bet football games is via “live play-in” lines. Spreads, money lines and even prop bets change throughout the game, depending on the score and situations.
Isleta had the feature for the opening week of the NFL season. So, in addition to wanting to check the Lobo-Irish number, a buddy and I made the trek from Rio Rancho to Isleta on Thursday to grab a bite and live-bet the Tampa Bay/Carolina game.
And not just because of the over-priced Fatburgers. Nearly $30 for a couple of burgers and fries? Really? And a dude on the register who more resembled a used car dealer?
We should have waited for the steakhouse to open.
Then we learned live betting was dead.
The ticket writers said it had been down since Monday, and they had no idea when it would be back up.
On Saturday, John Salerno, director of operations for USBookingmaking — which provides the lines for Isleta and Santa Ana Star Casino — said, “We have offered some in-progress wagering, but there hasn’t been any interest when we do offer it. We do offer halftime wagering during NFL, NBA and most college football and basketball games.”
Salerno didn’t say if it will return.
So, if you’re one of the few into in-game betting, you’re gambling if you head to Isleta to try and do it.
But if you do go, you might want to stop at McDonald’s.
BEST BET: Sure, there are little kinks here and there, and there will be more growing pains. But I love that sports betting has come to the area.
Santa Ana Star Casino rushed to put up a temporary sportsbook up last year, becoming the first in New Mexico to do so. The casino said it was working on constructing a bigger sportsbook.
While that temporary site is still up, Santa Ana recently added a betting window and a kiosk in Cantina Rio restaurant and bar.
It’s a great idea. You can have a cocktail and dinner in an area with numerous televisions, and be just feet away from the betting window. There is also a large board updating the point spreads.
Isleta’s temporary site opened a few weeks ago, but it is really cramped. The casino plans to open a large, permanent sportsbook filled with televisions in November, which should be beautiful.
Route 66 Casino Hotel, however, has taken a different, well, route than Santa Ana and Isleta.
It hasn’t rushed things, and it is ready to rock when the betting windows open on Thursday (Sept. 19).
Stadium 66 is flat-out spectacular.
The venue actually opened before it was ready to take wagers, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 3 and opening its doors to the public on Sept. 5. It originally had hoped to take bets when it opened.
But the extra two weeks should be well worth the wait.
The casino converted its former nightclub into a magnificent sports bar. It is worth the drive on I-40 west of Albuquerque.
“Over the last six months, we have carefully designed and constructed a premier outlet unlike any other in the Southwest,” said Tim Perkins, general manager of Route 66.
I’ve seen it, and its the state’s first sportsbook that feels like Vegas, baby!
Check Enchantment Sports later this week for a feature on Stadium 66.
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.