02/09/2012 3:43PM

Tuley: Nevada books show $5M profit after Super Bowl


The Giants pulled off the 21-17 upset of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI last Sunday, but the biggest upset according to some was that the sports books in Nevada were open for business Monday morning.

From all the newspaper and Internet articles to talk radio to TV new shows, we heard the sports books here were going to lose millions if the Giants won the Super Bowl because of future-book liability of when they were upward of 100-1 in mid-December when it looked like they wouldn’t even make the playoffs.

But when the Nevada Gaming Control Board released the betting figures on all wagers tied to Super Bowl XLVI (including futures as well as the side, total, first half, second half, and all the props on the actual game), the state’s sports books showed a healthy profit of $5.06 million from a total handle of $93.9 million.

Far from the bloodbath that was predicted.

What most people missed when hearing about the big odds that would get paid out if the Giants won was that the thing working in the books’ favor is they take bets on 32 teams and only have to pay out on one team (similar to Kentucky Derby futures). Think of all the dead tickets on the preseason darling Eagles, or the Packers, Saints, Lions, Texans, Steelers, Ravens, and 49ers. All those took significant action at different times of the year, but it was the Broncos that put the biggest scare into bookmakers with all the Tebowmania when they made the playoffs and knocked off the Steelers in the wild-card round. Even so, the other thing the bookmakers have working for them is time – they have plenty of time to adjust their future-book odds to attract action on other teams and limit their liability.

DRF SPORTS: Latest betting lines, StatFox matchups, and handicapping news for every game

The fact of the matter is the books did lose on the straight betting on the game as some books opened as high as the Patriots –4 when the matchup was determined after the conference championship games with others here in town at 3.5. Early money poured in on the Giants and bet it to 3 by nightfall that first Sunday. The Giants were still the preferred side for the two weeks leading up to gameday with several books – including South Point, MGM Resorts, Wynn, and Lucky’s – going to 2.5 to try and attract New England money to balance their books.

Now, it’s true the sports books would have won more if the Patriots had prevailed as they would have made out better in their future books, but that doesn’t mean they were cheering for the Patriots on their final drive. They were trailing by 4 and a touchdown and extra point would have given them a 3-point win and the books would have had to refund all bets taken on –3 and +3, which were the vast majority of bets against the spreads.

And those would have been the lucky ones.

The books that moved to –2.5 would have been paying out winners on the Patriots while also refunding all the bets on 3.

What helped the books win was they did get late money on the Patriots – aided by that move to –2.5 (which paid off for those who did that) as well as on the money line. The consensus ML on the Patriot was –140 (risk $140 to profit $100) and was down to –135 at several books, and enough bettors thought they saw value in that. Granted, the books ended up an overall loser with the straight-up result as most of the tickets on the Giants were +115 or +120, but again that shows that the bookies did their job in cutting their losses. The worst Super Bowl for the books was the last time the Giants beat the Patriots in 2008 when they were +300 on the money line. That’s mainly what led to the $2.5 million loss that year).

As it was, the books won for the 20th time in the past 22 years, with the only other loss being in 1995 when the 49ers routed the Chargers 49-26 as 18-point favorites and the books lost $396,674. That was a case of books getting pounded on the favorite/over despite the high spread. That game also is cited as one that convinced bookmakers to offer more and more proposition wagers, since it was during a time when the Super Bowl seemed to be a blowout every year.

This year’s handle is second all-time only to the $94.5 million wagered on the 2006 game between the Steelers and Seahawks, though the ensuing recession is seen as more of the reason for the drop in handle as opposed to a drop in popularity. In fact, the handle has risen each of the last three years after dipping to $81.5 million in 2009.

Props turned out once again to be profitable for the books, though it didn’t start out that way (and, no, I’m not talking about the Kelly Clarkson national anthem prop as that’s not offered in Nevada books). The first score of the game came when Tom Brady was called for intentional grounding in his own end zone, resulting in a safety and a 2-0 lead by the Giants. The LVH (formerly Hilton) had a Giants safety at 100-1 to be the first score and other books had it around 75-1 or 50-1, including a well-publicized case of a bettor having at $1,000 ticket at the MGM books at 50-1 for a quick $50,000 score. Jay Rood, director of race and sports book operations for MGM Resorts, said that put his book in a quarter of a million dollar hole.

But, in the end, they rallied and came out ahead at the end of the day.

As they usually do.