02/07/2013 3:11PM

Dave Tuley: Nevada Super Bowl handle at record $98.9 million


LAS VEGAS – Another football season is in the books.

And the books were filled with many happy bettors who had taken the Baltimore Ravens against the spread or on the money line to win outright over the San Francisco 49ers as they held on for a 34-31 victory. A lot of bettors did well on the props, too, as a lot of player props paid off on the over in the high-scoring game (especially all the props for starting quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco) and the popular “will there be a safety?” paid off around 9-1 on the “yes” when the Ravens took an intentional safety in the closing seconds instead of punting out of their own end zone.

The Las Vegas sports book directors quoted after the game were mostly saying that the safety hurt their bottom line and that the underdog Ravens winning wasn’t the best result (the best outcome for them would have been the 49ers to win the game without covering, which was certainly in play on the 49ers’ final drive trailing just 34-29 before they came up empty after getting to the Ravens’ 5-yard line) and projections were that it was a break-even Super Bowl with either a small win or a small loss.

However, when the Nevada Gaming Control Board released the statewide figures Monday afternoon, it was learned that the books had set a record handle of $98.9  million, eclipsing the mark of $94.5 million in pre-recession 2006, and profited by $7.2 million, the biggest win since 2007. So how did that happen?

Well, for starters, while I’m on great terms with most of the bookmakers here in town, you also have to understand their position when people ask them how their book did on a given game/day/weekend. I’m not saying they’re liars, just that they bend the truth. For instance, if they win big, they’re not about to rub the public’s face in it and will say it was a good win. If they win a decent amount, they’ll call it break even or a small win (which was the case here). If they say they had a small loss that usually equals break even. If they say they had a huge loss, that usually means they had a small loss but want everyone to come out and bet more, thinking the books are giving money away.

The other thing in play this past weekend is that the majority of the late money was coming in on the 49ers. The line had been bet from the opener of 49ers –4.5 (with several books opening at 5 and the Treasure Island in Las Vegas and several books in Reno opening at 49ers –6) down to a consensus –3.5 in the days following the conference championship games, but then started to climb back up and closed at a consensus of 49ers –4.5. So, despite a lot of people certainly being on the Ravens, the bulk of the bets when the majority of people were betting the game were winding up in the trash.

The state doesn’t release the handle or win/loss of individual books, but it’s assumed those with outlets in the Reno/Tahoe area fared better than the Vegas books with all the 49er fans crossing the border to bet the game up there. Cantor Gaming (with books at the M, Hard Rock, Tropicana, Venetian/Palazzo, Cosmopolitan, Palms, and Silverton) sent out a press release this week claiming they generated 16  percent of the handle and 21 percent of the state’s total win. Cantor takes big bets and should have fared well, with the M being the first major Vegas hotel that Southern California visitors see on the drive into town.

End-of-season odds and ends

I won with my posted play on the Ravens +4 and finished the season in this space one game over .500 at 28-27-1 and a net loss of 1.7 units based on risking 1.1 units to win 10.

◗ Super Bowl futures for next year’s game in New Jersey have been up since Jan. 14 at the LVH SuperBook. The New England Patriots opened the favorite and are still the 6-1 favorite after Baltimore’s win over San Francisco, with the 49ers the second choice at 7-1 and the Denver Broncos at 8-1. A poll of Vegas sports bettors that I conduct for ESPN Insider had the 49ers as the top power-rated team heading into the off-season. The Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans are next at 10-1, with the Seattle Seahawks at 12-1 and then finally the defending champion Ravens at 14-1 along with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

◗ Yep, it’s never too early to talk about the next football season. Last year, the Week 1 lines came out April  18 (just more than two months away) and over/under season win totals on May 27. With more and more books offering these type of future bets, we’re seeing them getting posted earlier and earlier every year, so I can’t wait.

◗ And in a first, the Wynn Las Vegas has posted Super Bowl props for next year. John Avello has the AFC as a 1-point favorite over the NFC, with an over/under of 45, but also has a full sheet of 14 props with some being 50-50 props such as “team to run the first play from scrimmage,” “team to commit first penalty,” and “team to call first timeout” and others being more complex such as “will there be a score in the first 7:00 of the game” (yes is –145, no is +125) or “what will be the first score of the game (touchdown –150/field goal or safety +130).

Maybe more bets like these (which as long as they’re determined on Super Sunday get included in the statewide figures) will help Nevada finally break the $100 million handle mark next year.