Clemson celebrates winning national title, Las Vegas anguishes over losing its shirt

As fantastic as Clemson's 35-31 victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship was for the Tigers, nobody -- expect perhaps the Crimson Tide -- took it harder than Las Vegas.

Sportsbooks across Nevada took a significant hit. The Wynn took a low six-figure loss. MGM Resorts absorbed a high six-figure loss.

When Alabama scored to take a 31-28 lead, Wynn sportsbook director John Avello saw two minutes on the clock and got a sick feeling. Just as he feared, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson led the winning touchdown drive, cashing every Tigers money line wager in one of the biggest-bet games in college football history.

Those money line bets all paid around 2-to-1.

Everyone who played Clemson plus the points -- 6, 6.5 or 7 depending on the book -- also carried a winning ticket to the bet window.

"It was one of the worst college football losses we've ever had, definitely one of the top three," said MGM sportsbook manager Jeff Stoneback, who spent the final moments cussing at the TV. "The handle [total amount bet] was phenomenal. We handled more on that game than any two of the NFL wild-card games combined."

Stoneback compared the loss to Texas' 41-38 win over USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl, when the Longhorns drew most of the money as touchdown underdogs (just like Clemson).

On Monday night, MGM had twice as much money on Clemson.

William Hill's 108 Nevada sportsbooks took 72 percent of the point-spread money and 67 percent of the moneyline dollars on the Tigers.

Before kickoff, head oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich said it would be a "burial" if Clemson won.

What ensued was a thrilling night for most bettors, a dismal one for the books.

"You book the game as best you can, you let the players play it and that's all you can do," Avello said. "It happens. That's sports."

Typically, when a team gets 6.5 or 7 points, the money line will pay in the +240 neighborhood (risk $100 to win $240) while the favorite will be forced to lay -280 (risk $280 to win $100).

The public kept walking to the window saying "Clemson, moneyline" despite getting terrible value.

By kickoff, MGM had reduced its money line payout on Clemson all the way to +175. The Alabama money line fell to -210.

"They couldn't stop betting +175," Stoneback said. "No value there, but obviously the value turned out to be a lot better than laying -210 with Alabama."

Close to $20 million was bet on the game across Nevada, some bookmakers estimated.

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