Green with Envy.Nevada wallows in profits from Super Bowl betting after earning more dead presidents than offshore operations.
KA-CHING!!! That unmistakable sound of big time profits was a sweet symphony that serenaded bookmakers as the results of Super Bowl XXXIX were tabulated, and chalk players crashed and burned.
While the New England Patriots were establishing a new NFL dynasty via their 24-21 non-cover victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville, Florida, legions of bookmakers rejoiced as their coffers overflowed with profits stemming from an ideal turn of events.
Nevada’s 173 sportsbooks won a record $15.4 million on a handle of $90,759,236, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The state’s winning percentage of 17 was also a record.
Due to its more liberal wagering policies, offshore books did not enjoy the windfall profits of Nevada, but a random survey of online shops revealed general satisfaction with Super Bowl results.
The public embraced the Pats, focusing on Tom Brady as the second coming of Joe Montana, and guru-like Coach Bill Belichick as an unbeatable combo. Opening as 6½ point favorites, the Patriots were driven to 7 where the line stabilized. When flurries of action occurred, the money line was utilized, and both sides were available at from -105 to -125.
The public also liked over the opening total of 48, which yo-yoed to 47½ during the two-week betting period, before dipping to 47 at game time in some venues. The public also took the Eagles on the money line, driving down the number to unattractive levels.
When the Pats’ defense allowed a late back-door TD on a 30-yard pass by McNabb, the jubilation in bet shops from Vegas to Costa Rica was palpable. Reducing New England’s margin from 10 to 3 buried the favorite money and, by coming under 48, it killed all the parlays to the over. Just another hard lesson that illustrates the difficulty of laying 11-10.
Where Vegas trumped offshore financially was in teaser action. Both the side and total were double winners, meaning all teasers won for the bettors. Nevada’s hyper-conservative books eschew teasing the total so, unlike offshore, their customers were not able to make those winning plays of both sides to either the over or under.
Mickey Richardson, at BetCris.com, noted that his shop had a comfortable profit, but the winning combinations on all teasers cut sharply into the hold. He acknowledged that even though the last Philadelphia score brought in the teasers, the major damage was to the players. “If the Eagles had won and we’d had to pay money-line parlays, that would have been ugly,” he added.
The only parlays that came in had low exposure for the books, such as Pats on the money line, -285 to the under, or the Eagles +7 to the under.
A smattering of savvy bettors holding futures tickets on the AFC at -3 hedged, by taking the Eagles +7, and got a push with a win.
Aladdin Race and Sportsbook director Brad “Bomber” Bryant did not begrudge those bettors their wins. “I’ll give up wins to those players all day long if we can hold 17 percent,” he stated.
One notable trend that keeps growing is the popularity of prop bets offered as side action by the sportsbooks. Once the province of smaller shops that counter programmed vs. the bigger books, these quirky plays are now a staple of virtually all casinos. It is not unusual for six to eight pages of plays, comprising 250-300 different bets, to be offered.
Limits that used to be in the $50-$200 range have risen dramatically and are now up to two dimes at some books. Parlaying props is still not permitted at most shops, but two Vegas casinos, Aladdin and Imperial Palace, do allow parlays that “are not correlated.” For instance, you cannot parlay the dog on the money line to the dog with points, since if the money line dog wins, the other play would automatically win.
While offshore operators are not bashful about admitting that they, just like Vegas, would prefer to service all squares, competition mitigates against such an across-the-board change in tactics.
As increasing numbers of props are available with most major sporting events, it is worth noting that discriminating players can find attractive plays. Two caveats:
Don’t bet into anything bigger than a 30-cent line; you can’t beat a 40-cent or bigger line.
Also, beware the obvious play. In Vegas, it seemed that every tout gave out a single prop -- New England to score first. Historically, this was a slam-dunk, as Brady and friends almost always get on the board first. That prop opened at -150 and by game time bettors were laying an outrageous -220. Needless to say, it was a loser.
Meanwhile, just before we filed this story with GOM, two distinctly anti-player events were taking place in Las Vegas.
First was the surprising sale of the Golden Nugget, which only a year earlier had been bought by two local dotcom millionaires who promised to revitalize the property by restoring the glamour of old Vegas, as well as initiating more liberal gambling rules.
The announcement that Landry’s, a restaurant conglomerate was buying the Nugget sucked the wind out of the sails of most savvy sports bettors. One area in which the two young entrepreneurs had promised more player-friendly action was in the sportsbook, and they were true to their word. Just as the wiseguys found a home, it is being taken away.
Under the leadership of sportsbook director Chris Andrews and sportsbook manager Nick Bogdanovich, the Nugget had become a top choice of the city’s sports betting community. Competitive vig, bigger limits and a comprehensive betting menu brought kudos from customers. The shop’s strategy was to extract a profit by taking a smaller hold on bigger volume.
Landry’s has already disclosed that it plans to expand by opening up Golden Nuggets in other markets. With its emphasis on maintaining shareholder value, the news is better for Landry’s shareholders than gamblers.
The other news was that MGM Mirage’s $7.9 billion acquisition of Mandalay Resort Group got approval by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which was the last major hurdle to finalize the deal.
The purchase puts MGM Mirage in control of 11 casinos and nearly half the hotel rooms on the Strip, while increasing their workforce from 40,000 to 75,000.
Sports bettors now will find identical lines in the following casinos: Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, Circus Circus, MGM Grand, Bellagio, Mirage, Treasure Island, Monte Carlo, New York New York, and Boardwalk.
Later this year, Harrah’s Entertainment will likely finalize its $9.4 billion buyout of Caesars Entertainment, again shrinking the number of properties for gamblers to choose from.
The homogenization of Vegas vis-à-vis sports betting continues unabated. This is good news for online shops which still offer enough diversity to accommodate all types of players.
But as Las Vegas’s growing emphasis on servicing the squarest of the square continues, bettors will have to search for those competitive bookmakers who will take a bet. Jimmy Vaccaro, where are you when we need you?
By Buzz Daly.