LAS VEGAS - Players, fans and sportsbooks are anxiously awaiting an announcement from the NFL and NFL Players Association that a new collective bargaining agreement is in place.
NFL owners are meeting in Atlanta Thursday to possibly vote on a deal to end the lockout. Although the sides still appear close to a resolution, NFLPA President Kevin Mawae says the union plans to take its time with a vote.
"Make no mistake about it. The players are not in a rush," he said. "We're not tied to a timeline of July 21st. Our timeline is that which gives us the deal that is the best deal for our players. So, whether that's today or tomorrow, whatever that may be. We want to play football. We want to play football. We want to go back to work, but we're not going to agree to any deal unless it's the right deal for all the players."
A separate ESPN report says the players association has given its leader DeMaurice Smith the go-ahead to finish up the remaining points on the deal.
That news has local sportsbooks breathing a huge sigh of relief. A season-long NFL lockout would cost the books an estimated $850 million.
"There's no doubt about that," said Hilton Race and Sportsbook Director Jay Kornegay. "I had no idea when we started this summer that we had a chance of settling this thing by the end of July. We were thinking more of the 11th hour, like late August or early September. So, I'm very pleased, okay, surprised, relieved, that this work stoppage could be settled by the end of this month."
The Hilton's NFL future bets and Week One point spreads have been up for awhile. The sportsbook is waiting on the official end of the lockout before posting over-under win totals for each team, since that's based on a 16-game season.