With the Patriots down 28-9 to the Falcons in the third quarter of Sunday night’s Super Bowl, a gambler in Las Vegas could have bet that New England would win the game at 16/1 odds. And of course, the Patriots indeed completed the most improbable comeback in Super Bowl history in a 34-28 victory, giving those long-shot bettors a big win while also covering the three-point spread and pushing the over/under scoring total into the over category.
Overall, it was a good-news, bad-news kind of night for the books.
“For Nevada’s largest sports book operator, William Hill, it was a fitting end to a terrible pro football season,” a spokesman told Will Brinson of CBS Sports. “The favorite covered. The total went over. All the popular props cashed.”
Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal said that William Hill took a six-digit loss on the night, but officials with the Westgate and Golden Nugget books told him they both came out ahead, as did the books at CG Technology, Caesars Palace/Harrah’s/Rio, Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos.
“It was one of the best Super Bowls we’ve had in my 11 years at the Nugget,” sports book director Tony Miller said, adding that he was glad that the Patriots won by a touchdown instead of a field goal. Had the final score ended 31-28 in favor of New England, the books would have been forced to shell out refunds to many who bet on the three-point spread and the over/under total, which stood at 59 points for a good portion of the two-week run-up to the game before coming down Sunday.
Recreational gamblers often love to take the favorite and the over, and both of those options cashed Sunday night along with the “hundreds” of long-shot Patriots bets made when they were down by double digits. So did a number of other popular prop bets:
— The game went into overtime for the first time ever, giving bettors who picked “yes” on that prop a +1000 win (in other words, a $100 bet would win $1,000, a $10 bet would win $100, etc.). According to Brinson, 85 percent of the bets on this prop were in the “yes” category.
— Patriots place kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point, giving those who predicted that would happen a +250 win (87 percent of the gamblers who played that prop were on the “yes” side). Plus, the Patriots had to go for two a number of times because of the missed kick. Of the gamblers who played the “will there be a two-point conversion?” prop, 96 percent of the tickets were on “yes,” Brinson reports, adding that it was a “very popular prop.”
— Tom Brady was named MVP of the game at +125. The William Hill spokesman told Brinson that the Brady MVP prop attracted “more than double the total of dollars” of anyone else on the board.
ESPN’s David Solar had a few more long-shot props that cashed:
MVP: Brady +125
DEF/ST TD: +170
Missed PAT: +250
1st TD: Freeman +850
Gatorade: None +1100
Natl Anthem: Under 130 sec
— David Solar (@TheDavidSolar) February 6, 2017
Gamblers had wagered a record $132.5 million in Las Vegas on last year’s Super Bowl, and Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay told the AP that he expected the betting on this year’s game to top that number.
It’s been a trying 2017 for the boys in the desert. Clemson’s upset of Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game led to big losses for the books, as did the games played during the NFL’s division playoff weekend.
I’m thinking that somehow, some way, they will muddle through.