Bookmakers in Nevada, where betting on sports events is legal, are warily approaching this weekend's National Football League schedule because of the strike by the NFL Players Association. In Las Vegas, lines will not be posted until Thursday at the earliest and the sports books are limiting the amount of action they will take from a bettor, from a prestrike $25,000 per game to as little as $500.

"This is a state of turmoil for us," said Jimmy Vaccaro, who sets the odds at the Golden Nugget. "Putting a number on these games doesn't make any sense. Personally, I am against putting up numbers this week. But if everybody else {in town} does, you run the risk of being the only place in town that doesn't."

He said the reason for his reluctance is simple: "I'm afraid of the sophisticated player getting the best of us, like if the sophisticated player finds out Joe Montana is going to play before we do."

Vaccaro said he will post a betting line on Thursday and will limit players to a maximum bet of $1,000. He only expects about five percent of a normal week's action when pro football generates a handle of $15 million-$20 million. In Reno, the hotel sports books there posted a line late yesterday.

Vaccaro said the quality of this week's games likely will determine the action in following weeks if the players' strike continues. "I'm rooting for them to be half good," he said. "If the quarterback turns and runs into the fullback, we'll never get a bet the week after this."

That's important in his industry, he said, not for the money made as a broker for the bettors, but for hotel occupancy. "It disrupts the weekend," he said. "People come to town simply because it's an NFL weekend {and they can bet the games}."

With no NFL games last week, the handle on college football was only about 10 percent above normal, he said.