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If ya’ll are traveling to New Orleans this week for the Super Bowl, have a good time. We’ll be just fine here in Las Vegas.

People who think going to the game site is the pinnacle of a Super Bowl experience would be mistaken. The best Super Bowl event in the world is right here.

Funny thing is, the NFL can’t stand us. They won’t even let us buy advertisements on network space.

For some reason, what we do here legally within our state – betting on their games – is against the NFL’s code of conduct, yet they will have two regular season games played each year in London, where legal betting occurs right outside the stadium.

New Orleans is an imposing city to slay this year in the competition for unofficial Super Bowl capital of America, but Las Vegas’ strength is in numbers. We have 149,000 rooms in Las Vegas that can support the biggest of all parties, compared to 36,000 rooms in New Orleans.

When Las Vegas sets its mind to being the biggest and best at something, it succeeds. The one day a year that is universally recognized and celebrated by the locals regularly co-mingling with all the visiting guests in town is the Super Bowl. Not NFR, not NASCAR, and certainly not New Year’s Eve. Las Vegans love football and, just like millions across the land, most of the passion comes from betting.

Gambling is the item every Super Bowl site is missing to really give it that edge. If betting were allowed in Jacksonville, suddenly Jacksonville becomes the top destination, and whatever city that follows, whether it’s a snowed-in Minneapolis or a festive Detroit, that would be the place to be.

What we have here in Las Vegas is the gold ticket. The attraction that satisfies all our needs at once that can’t be found anywhere else. New Orleans also has pretty women, cheap booze and bars that – almost – stay open all night, but Las Vegas adds the flair of being able to bet on over 300 Super Bowl propositions – betting on the game within the game.

For those who might be contemplating a trip to New Orleans instead of Las Vegas, consider you can’t bet Ray Lewis OVER 10½ total tackles at the ACME oyster house. Nor can you wager on Colin Kaepernick to score a touchdown (+140) at Pat O’Brien’s.

New Orleans likes to party, but they really don’t have anything on Las Vegas – that is, for those who may like to take it up a notch on such a festive occasion, which many do.

On Bourbon Street, it’s much of the same thing where the visitor has to adapt. In Las Vegas, we adapt and cater to your likings. There’s something for everyone, whatever budget you have. Whatever tastes you may prefer.

This phenomenon in Las Vegas hasn’t always been like this, and in some ways the direct success of the Las Vegas Super Bowl experience is because of betting and a loveable defensive tackle who scored a touchdown.

The 1985 Chicago Bears steamrolled everyone during the regular season and William “The Refrigerator” Perry, a rookie DT from Clemson, had captured everyone’s fancy because coach Mike Ditka used him a few times on goal line situations, where he plowed over for a few scores.

The Bears were 10-point favorites over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX, ironically played in New Orleans, and while the game wasn’t so attractive, people all wanted to see if the Bears could close out the magical season. And of course, one of the top stories was Perry.

Art Manteris was running the Caesars Palace book and Jimmy Vaccaro was in charge at the old MGM Grand book. Both posted a proposition that gave bettors 40-1 odds if “The Refrigerator” scored a touchdown.

This thing went viral in a world before the Internet.

Every wire service and local paper printed the story about the odds. And then after Perry did score, the papers ran even more follow up stories.

That attention made everyone in Las Vegas take notice, and the following year there were a few more props. Now, not only could you bet the spread, money-line, total and first-half, but you could also bet on yardage of a player or a line on the first quarter.

Then competition between the books also raised the bar. Caesars may have done 20 props, so the Stardust was going to do 30. And then the Imperial Palace was going to do 40.

It went on and on to the point where we’re at now, in 2013, with over 300 props per book being the norm. Over the course of almost three decades, Las Vegas’ clientele has become very familiar and comfortable with these props and it’s an attraction no one else can offer.

We used to say, “If you can’t be at the Super Bowl, the next best place is Las Vegas.” That’s all changed over the last decade. Now we say, “If you want have the best Super Bowl experience offered on the planet, Las Vegas is the place to be.”

Welcome to our city, and have the time of your life. I know you will.

Props galore

The darling of the prop season this year is Colin Kaepernick. People can’t get enough of the running quarterback who can throw equally as deadly, and the sports books have met the demand by offering a prop on just about everything he could possibly do in the Super Bowl. Total passing yards: 235½. Total rushing yards: 48½. William Hill sports books lead the way with 23 different Kaepernick props.

William Hill books also did a nice little contest for the public to get involved with asking bettors to send in their own prop. The winner was 49ers fan Mike Smyth who wanted to see a prop asking whether or not 49ers backup QB Alex Smith would take a snap. William Hill posted No -700, Yes +500. For his efforts, he was awarded a $100 bet on the Super Bowl. Way to go, Mike!

A jumping line

It’s hard to gauge how the final wave of action will come in because we should see 90 percent of the overall Super Bowl action begin playing over the weekend. The first wave saw lots of Ravens action, likely because everyone was so impressed by their win against at New England. That was last Sunday night when the line first came out where all the +5’s and +4½’s were gobbled up.

Then things started to simmer down with equal action and to some degree, a shade towards the 49ers. Most sports books – other than Wynn and William Hill – went to 49ers -3½, but on Friday, Coast Resorts went back to -4. On Sunday, Caesars also made the leap back to -4.

However, the most surprising move Sunday came up north at the Peppermill where they dropped the 49ers to -4. They started at -6½ with intentions of staying high because of all the 49ers money expected in 49ers country. Obviously they couldn’t wait it out and made the decision to move. They will be an interesting bet shop to watch for the rest of the week.

My first thought was that underdog money would come in the normal tradition of the Super Bowl. In the regular season, you can’t get bettors to take an underdog, but all of a sudden when the Super Bowl rolls around, they’re all over the dog. And for the most part, they’ve been correct – covering four of the last five Super Bowls and eight of the last 11.

If I had to guess, I think that final wave of action will still be weighted with Ravens money making it probable we might see some 3’s pop up by kickoff.

Star of THE game?

This depends on who you think will win. I haven’t wavered from my initial thoughts of the Ravens winning a high scoring affair. If that happens, the main culprit for success would be Ravens QB Joe Flacco.

In three playoff games thus far, Flacco has tossed 8 TD passes and no interceptions. He’s averaged 284 yards passing over those three games and you could argue that he’s been in his best groove of the season.

That groove could be in jeopardy with the week off. We’ve seen over the years how flat some of the No. 1 and 2 seeds fare with the week off when they have to play a wild card winner, but I think Flacco will be okay. The only concern may be playing indoors.

The Ravens lost their only indoor game this season, 43-13, at Houston in October, and they come off of frigid wins at Denver and New England. Maybe the temperature will be too nice for Flacco.

Besides the run Flacco’s on, one of the other main reasons to like him is the 49ers defense. Once held in high regards as one of the NFL’s best defenses, the tempo created by Kaepernick has put more pressure on the defense and they haven’t been as good.

Consider that the 49ers defense gave up more than 340 yards in four of their last five games. The only team they held under 300 yards over that span was the pitiful Cardinals offense. In Week 15 they gave up 388 yards to the Patriots, 346 to Seattle in week 17, 352 to the Packers in the divisional playoff, and 477 to the Falcons in the NFC championship game.

Teams are finding ways to beat the 49ers defense and it’s usually been downfield which has helped produce games going OVER the total in nine of their last 10 games. One thing Flacco does very well is throw the deep ball.

So needless to say, I find several of the props regarding yardage and TD passes with Flacco attractive. At the same time, if Flacco has success, that means the recipients of his passes should do well. That means Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta could be good plays OVER on some of their props.

The LVH has a prop that pays +340 if Smith scores a TD in the first half. If you like the game high scoring like I do, then that becomes a distinct possibility.

Prediction: Ravens, 37-34.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].

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