Super Bowl Betting Recap: Late TD Helps Books Win Big
by Robert Ferringo - 02/03/2009
I think it's a pretty safe bet that Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes will never have to pay for another drink in Pennsylvania for the rest of his life. And if Las Vegas sportsbook managers are half as grateful as the members of Steelers Nation then Mr. Roethlisberger and Mr. Holmes should be welcome (and well-comped) guests in Sin City for the rest of his days.
Roethlisberger's game-winning toss and Holmes' sensational catch was not only the determinant for Pittsburgh earning its sixth Super Bowl title but also made the difference between tens of millions of dollars changing hands in the betting world. Pittsburgh's 27-23 win - but loss against the seven-point spread - in Super Bowl XLIII ensured that Las Vegas didn't suffer back-to-back losing Super Bowls for the first time in two decades.
"That catch was worth (many) millions of dollars," said a Vegas sportsbook director said under the condition of anonymity. "That was a big one."
According to online sources, approximately 60 percent of all of the wagers placed on the game were on the Cardinals. And according to our Vegas source, nearly "three of every five tickets" that were Arizona wagers were money line plays on the Cards with a payout of roughly 2-to-1. The Cards led, 23-20, with less than a minute to play and were just 40 seconds away from scored back-to-back Super Bowl upsets by underdogs of more than a touchdown.
Super Bowl XLII between New England and the New York Giants resulted in just the second overall losing Super Bowl for Las Vegas in the last 18 years. The primary reason that the books took it on the chin to the overall tune of minus-$2.5 million is the fact that so many Giants fans made money line wagers on the G-Men at an over 4-to-1 payout. The Giants sprung the outright upset as a 12-point underdog and scored a windfall for their backers.
Gambling911.com publisher Chris Costigan reported on Monday that the total betting numbers in Vegas on this year's Super Bowl would be comparable to the Giants-Patriots handle from last year. There was approximately $92 million wagered on the Giants-Pats in Las Vegas and, according to online sources, roughly $10 billion wagered world wide and online on the 2008 game. Costigan cited L.V. Hilton sportsbook director Jay Kornegay, saying that this year's handle would be right around that same $92 million mark, which was a surprise to some people considering the current national economic climate.
Since 1991, Nevada has separately tracked Super Bowl betting. The sportsbooks have now turned a profit in 17 of those years while the bettors have won only twice. Last year's $2.5 million score was the public's biggest win while 2005 was the best year for the books when they banked $15.4 million as New England won but did not cover against Philadelphia. R.J. Bell of Pregame.com was quoted saying before this year's game that, "A conservative estimate of Super Bowl betting losses over the last 18 years would exceed $12 billion dollars worldwide."
While the Big Payday on the Cards money line didn't come through, two other very popular public or "square" wagers provided a nice booty for players. Behind a play on the side, the total and teasers were the No. 2 and No. 3 most popular bets on the game and all of them were winners.
The 'over' miraculously came through with 16 points in the last three minutes, pushing this game over the 46.5 close. There were only three points scored in the first quarter and the game was set at just 20-7 with under nine minutes remaining in the game, so that one was a bit of a lucky break for all the 'over' players. Not only did the game total go over, but the halftime total of 23.5 also went 'over' thanks to an incredible 100-yard interception return that was ruled a touchdown, reviewed, and then eventually awarded to the Steelers.
Also, in a rather strange quirk, every single teaser wager placed was a winner. There were six potential combinations for a standard six-point teaser: Pitt (-1) and 'Under' 52.5, Pitt (-1) and 'Over' 40.5, Arizona (+13) and 'Under' 52.5, Arizona (+13) and 'Over' 40.5, Pitt (-1) and Arizona (+13), and finally 'Over' 40.5 and 'Under' 52.5. Well, when Big Ben found Holmes he secured that all six of those plays would be winners and created a worst-case scenario for the books in that regards.
Teasers generally comprise about 12 to 20 percent of a sportsbooks total handle on any given Sunday and a teaser was the third most popular wager (behind the side and the total) on the Super Bowl.
As for some random prop wagers, the national anthem went 'over', Santonio Holmes was the MVP at 15-to-1, and Gary Russell managed the first TD of the game at 14-to-1, and the safety paid at 8-to-1 for those expecting a two-point defensive score. Also, the biggest prop disappointment was clearly Arizona's choice to defer after winning the opening kickoff. Picking the Cards to get the ball to start the game was one of the "hot" props in the week leading up to the game and made perfect sense, but Pitt won that one at nearly 2-to-1.
Finally, the books dodged a final bullet with Pittsburgh winning the game outright. A futures wager on Arizona to win it all that was placed before the season began would have paid out at around 30- or 35-to-1. The Steelers were a 10-to-1 selection to earn their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
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