At this point every NFL fan that has seen it. Down by five points with seven seconds remaining and 69 yards to travel for a game-winning touchdown, the Miami Dolphins were beyond desperate late in the fourth quarter of their game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. But when Ryan Tannehill threw to Kenny Stills, who lateraled to DeVante Parker, who then lateraled to Kenyan Drake, who then zig-zagged 50-yards to the endzone for the game winning touchdown, the “Miami Miracle” saved the Dolphins’ season and deposited a sizable chunk of money into the pockets of sportsbooks.
Most of the public betting action was on New England in the form of teaser cards and money-line parlays, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report. When the Dolphins stole the victory away from the Patriots, several money-line bets exceeding $10,000 placed on New England and taken by Caesars Entertainment lost. The play also resulted in swings of seven-figures at William Hill and six-figures at MGM, according to the report.
As sports betting permeates nationwide, the “Miami Miracle” gave bettors in previously unregulated states a glimpse of the roller coaster of emotions that come with betting on sports.
“With a minute to go, you’re looking at possibly covering the 8.5-point spread. And a minute later, if you have a money-line bet, you’re a loser,” said Jeff Stoneback, director of The Mirage sportsbook in Las Vegas, told the RJ.
According to ESPN there were at least some bettors who were privy to New England’s struggles in Miami and who backed the Dolphins on the money-line. One $10,000 bet placed on the Dolphins money-line (+340) at a CG Technology sportsbook netted $34,000. That was a price CG Technology was happy to pay, given how Sunday played out for the sportsbook.
“The Ravens and Dolphins covering killed so many parlays that we had no chance of losing the rest of the day no matter what happened,” CG Technology vice president Jason Simbal told ESPN.
Another bettor at the Golden Nugget sportsbook in New Jersey astutely identified a four-team money-line parlay of all underdogs. Along with the Dolphins, the ticket had the Indianapolis Colts to upset the Houston Texans (-4), the Oakland Raiders to upset the Pittsburgh Steelers (-10), and the San Francisco 49ers to upset the Denver Broncos (-3). The $20 parlay paid out $2,633.
It’s not the first time this season that an unexpected ending to an NFL game caused millions of dollars to shift hands.
Earlier in the season in a game against the Green Bay Packers, Rams running back Todd Gurley purposely went down instead of scoring a touchdown that would have covered the 7.5-point spread. The move was smart, as it assured a Rams victory, but painful for sportsbooks.
Unlike the “Miami Miracle” on Sunday, which punished bettors, Gurley’s dive in Week 8 resulted in a $1 million swing in favor of the betting public. One bettor who had Green Bay +8.5 as the final leg of a parlay ended up with $558,055.55 because of it.
After the game, Gurley was asked how much consideration he gave to the ramifications of his actions.
“Man, forget fantasy and forget Vegas today. We got the win so that’s all that matters,” Gurley said.