Super Bowl XLVIII Las Vegas sports books

Superbowl XLVIII may be over, but the Las Vegas betting action was record-setting (Image: John Gurzinski/LV Review-Journal)

The Super Bowl is always the event of the year for Las Vegas sports books, and this year’s contest had promised to bring in the most betting action ever. In the end, the final numbers surpassed all expectations – both in terms of how much fans bet, and how much profit the casinos ultimately made.

In total, gamblers bet a whopping $119.4 million at Nevada sports books on the contest between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. For those who somehow missed the result of the game, the Seahawks dominated throughout, winning by a lopsided score of 43-8.

Surprising Results

That wasn’t the result that the public was banking on. The star power of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning brought in a ton of public money; while the Seahawks opened as a favorite at most sports books, that number quickly changed as bets came pouring in on Denver, which went into the game as a 2.5-point favorite.

Manning may have been the league MVP this year, but he was stymied by the Seahawks defense. That meant bad news for the public, and a record haul for the sports books, which took in a profit of $19.7 million on the game. That shattered the casino win record for the Super Bowl, which had stood at $15.4 million – a number set as far back as 2005.

The biggest wins for the sports books came on the point spread – as we said, there was far more betting on the Broncos than the Seahawks – and on the over/under. The game ultimately went over the posted number of 47.5, while the public favored the under, perhaps in deference to the vaunted Seattle defense.

Props for Public Action

That said, the public wasn’t completely defeated. Several events during the game brought big wins to fans who had made the right prop bets.

“The betting public certainly had their moments in this game,” said Jay Korneay, who runs the LVH sports book in Las Vegas. “Some of the props that they bet on every year came through and they were rewarded.”

The biggest props to come through, amazingly, were once again related to safeties. For the third consecutive year, there was a safety in the game. The unusual event still paid out 8-1 even after bookmakers had dropped the odds following increased interest in the bet after defenses scored the two-point play in the last two Super Bowls. Even more unlikely, the safety came on the first play from scrimmage and was the first score of the game. Bettors who predicted the scoring would be opened with a safety were paid out at 60-1 odds.

Another prop bet that got some action was whether there would be a successful two-point conversion during the contest. When the Broncos finally scored at the end of the third quarter, they were down 36-6, and decided to go for two in order to play catch up as quickly as possible. They successfully converted to make the score 36-8. For bettors who had wagered that a two-point conversion would take place, the bet paid out at 5-1 odds.

But overall, the casinos had a field day. They even won on the entirely random coin toss prop bet: the opening toss was heads, while most money came in on tails. Overall, the casinos won about 16.5 percent of the money wagered on the game, a percentage far higher than the average for recent Super Bowls.