Entering Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Eagles and Patriots, Las Vegas’s sportsbooks had come out ahead in 25 of the previous 27 NFL championship games, the 2008 game between the Giants and Patriots and the 49ers’ blowout of the Chargers in 1995 being the exceptions. The books continued their successful run this year, though their winnings were smaller than in recent years thanks to a high-scoring victory by the underdog Eagles.
According to numbers released by Nevada Gaming Control, the state’s legal sportsbooks won $1.1 million on a record $158.58 million that was wagered on the game. It’s their smallest Super Bowl win since 2011, when the Giants upset the Patriots.
As you can see from this list compiled before kickoff Sunday by ESPN’s David Payne Purdum, the oddsmakers were hoping for two specific things to happen:
Neither did. The underdog Eagles won outright, 41-33, and the score raced past the over/under total of 49 late in the third quarter. And if the spread and the total didn’t hurt the books, the prop bets made before an offensively explosive game did.
“I’d be doing a lot better if I didn’t have to grade over, over, over on both teams on the proposition bets,” Treasure Island sportsbook director Tony Nevill told Covers.com after the game. “This was a horrible outcome, and one of the few times where the props were so disastrous that it ruined the whole day. Everything we won on the futures book, the moneyline, the total and the side, we gave back to all the props.
“Everybody had the over on all the player props,” Nevill continued. “And all of them went over, especially on the Philadelphia side.”
Eight different players scored in the game, including Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who caught a touchdown pass late in the first half. Any gambler who bet that Foles would score a touchdown was paid out at 8 to 1.
Purdum checked in with various sportsbooks and posted their estimates on Twitter:
William Hill: A “multimillion dollar” loss.
Westgate SuperBook: A small win overall, but props were “really bad.”
CG Technology: A six-figure loss.
Caesars: A seven-figure win thanks to some late-arriving money on the Patriots.
MGM Grand: A “very modest win,” according to Covers.com’s Patrick Everson.
Wynn: A loss on the game.
“We don’t usually lose Super Bowls,” Wynn Las Vegas sports book director Johnny Avello told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Todd Dewey. “Once in a while. The last couple have been tough. Maybe the Patriots won’t be there next year.”
Avello told Purdum that it was the worst Super Bowl of his career, which has lasted more than 30 years.
The Patriots have been pretty close to a sure thing over the past two NFL regular seasons, giving gamblers little reason to bet against them. They were favorites in all 16 regular season games and covered the spread in 11 of them. One year earlier, they went 13-3 against the number in the regular season. But they again laid an egg in the sportsbooks’ eyes on Super Bowl Sunday.
“The Patriots are not good to the sports books in Super Bowls,” CG Technology sports book director Jason Simbal told Dewey. “Whenever we need them, they don’t get there. And when we don’t need them, they get there.”
If there was a saving grace for the books, it’s that some bettors anticipated a Patriots second-half comeback, just as New England roared back from a 28-3 deficit to win the Super Bowl over Atlanta a season earlier. So the in-game bets came in on New England at halftime, mitigating the books’ losses.
The unnamed gambler nicknamed “Bettor X,” who reportedly took the books for $10 million after a crazy run of success gambling on the World Series, had a big hand in the books’ losses. He made a string of large wagers on the Eagles moneyline at a number of books, according to ESPN and Covers, cashing all of them. One of the bets was a $3 million wager at the MGM Grand, the largest bet ever taken at that casino on a sporting event. Jay Rood, MGM Resorts vice president of race and sports, told Covers that the bet was made in the +150 to +180 range (meaning a bet of $100 pays $150 or $180), implying a win on that wager of between $4.5 million and $5.4 million.
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