02/06/2002 1:00AM

Super handle a 'brisk' $71M


Nevada got what it wanted from this year's Super Bowl: high betting volume and a tidy profit.

Bettors wagered $71,513,304, third-highest all-time, in Nevada on this year's Super Bowl, which the New England Patriots won 20-17 over the St. Louis Rams. The casinos showed an overall profit of $2,331,607 for a hold of more than 3 percent. The handle increased a bit under 6 percent from last year, when the Baltimore Ravens' 34-7 victory over the New York Giants generated only $67,661,425 in wagers.

"I was expecting about the same as last year, or even a little less, based on what the economy has been and the fact there was only a one-week gap," between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, Frank Streshley, senior analyst for the Gaming Control Board, said from his office in the state capital of Carson City.

"But we heard action was brisk down in Las Vegas and we were all pleasantly surprised."

This year's handle set a record for a one-week gap, surpassing the $71 million handled on the Rams-Titans game two years ago.

The handle on last year's game was down (despite a two-week build-up) because it involved two defensive-oriented teams who don't attract a significant amount of public money. But the result was good for the casinos, as they won a record $11 million mostly because of the public betting the Ravens and the under in parlays as the game went over the 33-point total.

This year, handle was helped significantly by the presence of the very popular, offensive-minded Rams, and reinforced the belief of most bookmakers that a Rams-Raiders match would have broken the handle record set back in 1998, when the Packers and Broncos, two very popular teams, generated $77,253,246 in wagers.

The relatively low $2.3 million profit for the casinos was mostly because bettors cashed in on the Patriots on the money line (ranging from 4-1 to as high as 6.5-1) and the Patriots parlayed to the under. That cut significantly into the sports books' profits.

The patriotic theme of the pre-game show and the halftime entertainment was carried out in the casinos, too. At Caesars Palace, 19 New York City firefighters and policemen were guests of the hotel and received a standing ovation.

Even though the casinos didn't win a lot on the game, the estimated 255,000 weekend visitors spent a lot on hotel rooms, meals, and entertainment and made it a successful weekend for the state.

Super trends to remember

You might want to cut and paste this for next year's Super Bowl:

The AFC is 5-0-2 against the spread in the last seven Super Bowls. The AFC has won four of the last five Super Bowl straight up (following a 13-0 run by the NFC).

Favorites are 24-12 straight up overall, but only 19-14-3 against the spread and a losing 2-3-2 the last seven years.

The game staying under the total of 53 ended a string of five Super Bowls going over. Since totals betting started on the Super Bowl in 1982, the over now holds a 13-7-1 edge.

The Rams, who are favored to return to the Super Bowl next year, have gone under in each of their recent Super Bowl appearances (totals betting wasn't available when the then Los Angeles Rams played the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV in 1980).

Nevada's Super Bowl Handle


2002$71,513,304New England 20, St. Louis 17$2,331,6073.3

2001$67,661,425Baltimore 34, NY Giants 7$11,002,63616.3

2000$71,046,751St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16$4,237,9786.0

1999$75,986,520Denver 34, Atlanta 19$2,906,6013.8

1998$77,253,246Denver 31, Green Bay 24$472,0330.6

1997$70,853,211Green Bay 35, New England 21$2,265,7013.2

1996$70,907,801Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17$7,126,14510.1

1995$69,591,818San Francisco 49, San Diego 26(-$396,674)-0.6

1994$54,483,221Dallas 30, Buffalo 13$7,481,54113.7

1993$56,811,405Dallas 52, Buffalo 17$7,174,86912.6

Source: Nevada Gaming Control Board