Bookmakers, bettors fear replacement ref fallout - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Bookmakers, bettors fear replacement ref fallout

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Image: ESPN/Monday Night Football Image: ESPN/Monday Night Football
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

The NFL's replacement referees are causing a firestorm in the betting world. The bad call in Monday night's game led to a $300 million swing in money that has many bettors fearing what's next.

"I've seen bad calls in games, but I've never seen anything like I saw this whole weekend," said Alex Armato, a Packers fan who witnessed the touchdown call that led to the Seattle Seahawks win over Green Bay Monday.

Many local fans said what has happened to the game in the past few weeks is a disgrace - especially those who have money riding on it.

"We've got people who are trying to do other people's jobs," said football fan Terry Downey, who said he will keep watching the games, albeit with plenty of nerves as the NFL referee labor dispute continues.

"I would expect to see it the whole season. I don't expect this to be over and done with real quick," he said.

Of the estimated $300 million that changed hands with the call, only about $12 million to $15 million was wagered in Nevada. Jay Kornegay, a manager at LVH SuperBook, told FOX5 about 85 percent of the tickets were bet on Green Bay.

"It's very unfortunate to see controversy pop up again, but it's always been part of the sport," he said, agreeing that the touchdown pass was a blown call by the replacement refs - one that the NFL upheld Tuesday.

"There's the word 'refund' that pops up. Certainly we can't do that because I believe that would open up a gigantic Pandora's box if we started something like that," Kornegay said.

The founder of the Las Vegas based Lingerie Football League kept his opinions to himself for the past few weeks, but couldn't any more.

"This is going to get uglier and as an avid NFL fan, I wanted to speak up," said Mitchell Mortaza.

He said some of the NFL's replacement refs worked for him until they were fired for missing calls and late hits.

"It was a shock to me that guys who weren't good enough to officiate in our game are now officiating on the NFL fields," Mortaza said.

He and plenty of fans agree there is only one option.

"Try to right this thing, and the only way you're going to right it is bringing the original officials back," he said.

FOX5 has learned that at least one online gambling site - Bovada.lv - will return bettors half their money if they bet on the Packers Monday night. Sports book manager Kevin Bradley told FOX5, "Never have I seen such an egregious call that represented such a huge swing in money."

Kornegay does not expect bettors to stop wagering on NFL games, but he argued that if the referee situation gets progressively worse, the amount of money wagered may suffer.

Published reports indicate the referees are continuing negotiations with the NFL, but no end appears to be in sight.

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