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Sports books giving bettors their props

Many UNLV basketball fans will be anxious to see if the Rebels can find a way to slow down Jimmer Fredette on Saturday, hoping the hometown team can avenge a loss to Brigham Young.

Others in Las Vegas will just be hoping Fredette does enough to help them win a Super Bowl bet.

The high-scoring guard has become all the rage in college basketball, which makes him an ideal candidate to be the subject of two Super Bowl proposition wagers at Lucky’s sports books.

"It seems people are really embracing this guy, and everyone all of a sudden knows who he is," said Jimmy Vaccaro, director of operations for Lucky’s sports books. "I think a prop with Jimmer in it creates more interest than with Kobe (Bryant).”

Fredette is a minus-120 favorite to have more 3-pointers in Saturday’s home game against UNLV than Green Bay’s Donald Driver has receptions in the Super Bowl. Fredette’s total points scored are an 11½-point underdog to the total points scored by the Steelers and Packers.

Vaccaro traces the popularity of proposition wagering to one particular play. Several books offered a bet on whether Chicago Bears defensive lineman William "The Refrigerator" Perry would score a touchdown against the Patriots in Super Bowl XX in 1986.

When Perry plunged into the end zone, Vacarro estimated that those books lost anywhere between $250,000 and $500,000 on that specific bet. The resulting media attention from around the country, however, more than made up for the financial hit.

Props have grown in popularity ever since. Sports books still get a great deal of attention for their offbeat offerings, but the bets have also become big business.

No book does more prop business than the Las Vegas Hilton, which typically takes in about 50 percent of its total Super Bowl action on props.

Sports book director Jay Kornegay and his staff, headed by Jeff Sherman and Ed Salmons, began putting together their 25-page prop betting sheet weeks ago, finalizing the numbers after the Super Bowl matchup was set.

"Within the boundaries we have, whether it be time, creativity or regulations, I think we’ve pretty much pushed it as far as we can," Kornegay said. "I’m sure if we had a month to do it, we could come up with 600 props."

The proposition menu at the Hilton includes bets on PGA players, NHL games, soccer and college basketball.

Not all props are so exotic.

Sports books post odds on just about every individual player’s performance in the game, from total rushing yards by Green Bay’s James Starks to whether one of the punts by Pittsburgh’s Jeremy Kapinos will result in a touchback.

"Every play or every possession, someone is either cheering or ripping up a ticket," said Vaccaro, who says prop betting at Lucky’s books increases every year.

The national media have made much of certain proposition bets dealing with Christina Aguilera’s national anthem and the halftime performance of the Black Eyed Peas, but those types of bets are not allowed under Nevada Gaming regulations, which stipulate bets must be decided on the field of play and have a verifiable outcome from a reliable source, such as being listed in the official box score.

That stipulation doesn’t prohibit MGM Resorts from accepting wagers on the Lingerie Bowl, which will be played at the Thomas & Mack Center during halftime of the Super Bowl. Los Angeles is currently a 5½-point favorite over Philadelphia, with a total of 36½.

Not surprisingly, there are no props linking the Lingerie Bowl with Fredette’s performance.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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