02/07/2007 1:00AM

Under helps books make most of Super Bowl day


Super Bowl wagering in Nevada wasn't as big as most people were predicting, but the state's casinos and sports books weren't complaining when the official figures were released Tuesday by the state's Gaming Control Board.

Total handle on the game was $93,067,358 at the state's 176 legal sports books, down nearly $1.5 million from last year. That was well short of the $100 million that many were expecting with such a favorable matchup of the popular Colts and their high-powered offense, led by the ever-present Peyton Manning, vs. the Bears from the big market of Chicago and its longtime loyal fan base.

But despite the dip in handle, the amount won by the sports books was $12,930,175, for a hold of 13.9 percent. The fact that the game stayed under the total helped as the Colts/under parlay was the best result for most books, while Colts/over would have been the worst. (Case in point: When the books had a record handle last year, they won only $8.8 million and held just 9.3 percent when the favorite/over parlay came in.)

The total won this year was the second-most in Nevada history, surpassed only by the $15.4 million won in 2005 when the Patriots beat the Eagles 24-21 and the books held a record 17 percent.

Kenny White, chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, speculated even before the weekend that the number of people coming to Nevada to gamble big on the game this year might actually be down in part because of the crackdown on offshore sports books and Internet payment-processing companies like Neteller, which have closed their U.S. operations.

"There are millions of dollars tied up right now that if people were able to withdraw they might have brought here to bet the game," White said last Friday night. "I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people had to cancel their trips because they didn't have access to their betting bankroll."

Sports book directors said that while there was likely a record set on the number of tickets written on the game (there's no official announcement of that), they were overwhelmingly smaller wagers instead of the six-figure bets that are needed to really make the handle soar.

* For those who can't stand a Sunday without a football wager (and can't wait for the Arena Football League to start next month), the AFC is a 4-point favorite over the NFC in the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. This game has become similar in recent years to the NBA and NHL all-star games, with very little defense played, and oddsmakers have adjusted accordingly with a consensus total of 66. But last year, the NFC did pull off an upset with a relatively low-scoring 23-17 victory.

* Las Vegas Sports Consultants has the Chargers as the 9-2 favorite to win next year's Super Bowl, to be played in Glendale, Ariz. The Colts are the second choice at 5-1, followed by the Bears (7-1), Patriots (9-1), Bengals and Saints (12-1), Ravens (14-1), Seahawks (15-1), Cowboys and Jaguars (18-1), Eagles and Steelers (20-1), and the Panthers and Broncos (25-1). The Raiders are the longest shot on the board at 150-1, with the Browns and Lions at 125-1. Before laughing too hard, keep in mind that the Saints, who made it to the NFC title game, were 200-1 at this time last year, and the Jets, who made the playoffs, were more than 100-1.

Fight cards just keep coming

Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas was made even bigger with the Ultimate Fighting Championship's UFC 67 card last Saturday night. It certainly wasn't on the scale of the Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz fight in UFC 66 at the MGM Grand on New Year's weekend, but 10,787 fans packed the Mandalay Events Center last week, and there was the buzz of electricity and celebrity-watching mania that was once only managed by big-time boxing events.

While the action of mixed-martial-arts fighting was intense, there was little drama, as the favorites in the five main matches all won convincingly. Anderson Silva beat Travis Lutter with a second-round KO as a -400 favorite, Mirko Cro Cop used his high kicks to knock down and then pummel Eddie Sanchez as a -1000 favorite, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson also recorded a second-round KO of Marvin Eastman as a -550 favorite, Patrick Cope won a unanimous decision over Scott Smith as a -160 favorite, and Roger Huerta needed only 19 seconds to defeat John Halverson as a -600 favorite.

The card will be probably be most remembered for the UFC debuts of Cro Cop and Jackson, both of whom earned their reputations overseas. Cro Cop, whose real last name is Filopovic - everyone calls him Cro Cop because he's a Croatian police officer and a member of that country's parliament - is expected to vie for the UFC heavyweight title, and Jackson is in line to meet Liddell for the light heavyweight crown, so the UFC 67 card was more of a preview of things to come.

* This Saturday night's boxing card at Mandalay Bay should prove to be more competitive. It's highlighted by "Sugar" Shane Mosley vs. Luis Collazo for the interim WBC welterweight title. Floyd Mayweather currently holds the belt, but with him moving up in weight to face Oscar De La Hoya on May 5, the WBC will give the belt to the winner of this fight if Mayweather doesn't face the winner. Mosley, who has held belts in three different weight classes, is a -355 favorite, but Collazo is an up-and-coming star who might have shined brightest in a close loss to Ricky Hatton last May. The over/under is set at 11 1/2 rounds. The fight will be shown on HBO with the broadcast starting at 9:45 p.m. Eastern/6:45 p.m. Pacific.