BCS Championship Game A Big Winner For Sports Books

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RENO, NV - It's not up there with the Super Bowl, March Madness or the Kentucky Derby, but Monday's BCS Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama means a good day for Nevada sports books.

"It's like a big Monday night NFL game," says Terry Cox, director of the Race and Sports Book at Reno's Peppermill Hotel Casino.

Normally college doesn't come close to an NFL game as far as handle, but in this particular game this will be the biggest handle we have for a college game all season long."

There's a couple of reasons for that.

First, the match has been set for five weeks now. Plenty of time for people to wander in and lay down a wager. Visitors over the holidays from California made a bet before they returned home where sports betting is unavailable, even in the state's tribal casinos.

But there's another factor: the presence of Notre Dame, a team with a storied history and a national fan base.

"It seems to be one of those America's Team things," says Cox. "Notre Dame is one of those schools that everyone wants to see do well."

And that's drawing a lot of action from people who don't normally bet sports.

Nevertheless, Notre Dame remains a nine-point underdog to Alabama.