On the opening Sunday of the NFL season, one of the hottest topics in Las Vegas sports books was a college football game from Saturday night.
Michigan’s thrilling upset of Notre Dame was an instant classic, to be sure. But about two hours after the conclusion of Utah-Southern California, a score change created mass confusion.
The game ended as a 17-14 victory for the Trojans. But around 10 p.m., the Pacific-12 Conference announced it was overruling game officials who had not allowed a touchdown by USC’s Torin Harris after a blocked field-goal attempt.
As Harris, a redshirt sophomore from Palo Verde High School, raced for the end zone, several Trojans ran onto the field to celebrate and drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty to nullify the score. But the Pac-12 announced it should have been enforced as a dead-ball foul and changed the final score to 23-14, which was significant as USC was favored by 8½ to 9½ points during the week.
“We paid the majority of the tickets Saturday night, unfortunately,” Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay said. “We were paying 17-14 and the Utah tickets. Once they changed the score, we looked at our house rules.”
The Hilton stopped paying tickets on Utah, Kornegay said, and started cashing wagers on USC because its house rules state the outcome must be determined on the date of event conclusion.
“If the score change happened on game day, we are obligated to recognize it,” Kornegay said. “If it’s the day after, we don’t recognize it. In this particular rule, there are some variations.”
A slightly different rule is posted at other books, including MGM Resorts, where 17-14 is considered the final score.
“That’s all we’re paying. We’re sticking with the original decision, because per our house rules it’s an overturned decision, which we don’t recognize,” MGM sports book director Jay Rood said. “It’s in our house rules in black and white. It’s got to be one or the other.”
Station Casinos announced it was honoring wagers on both sides of the game.
Kornegay added, “What I don’t understand is why would they change the score? Outside of Las Vegas, it doesn’t matter. The only thing I figured is the boosters of USC laid 8½ and they were putting on a lot of pressure.”
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907.