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NFL Notebook by Micah Roberts |

Total handle could easily top $90M

After all was said and done on Super Bowl Sunday, results turned out to be mixed, but nonetheless okay for the Las Vegas sports books.

Many in the books were a little worried about the handle, or lack of it, going into Super Bowl weekend. They weren’t seeing as many large bets as normal on either side and they were also missing visitors from back East due to cancelled flights.

“I don’t know exactly when those people who were delayed finally got into town, but when they landed here, it was apparent by the rise in our handle,” said MGM MIRAGE (MGM) race and sports director Jay Rood.

“By 10 am Sunday, we were trending about 10% less than last year’s Super Bowl,” Rood continued. “When we tallied everything up after kickoff, we were up 3% over last season.”

When the sports books posted the score with the Saints winning 31-17, just about every book in the city did well, though some did better than others. The best scenario would have been the Colts winning, but not covering, and staying under the total of 57.

One of the few books that had their best scenario unfold was the M Resort’s race and sports book.

“We couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” said M Sports Book Director Mike Colbert, “It was the best result we could have had. We never moved off the 4½.”

The M was ahead of the curve a little bit by having the game at 4½ for almost the entire two week duration while most books in town were at 5 or 5½. By game time, just about everyone in town was sitting at 4½.
“We saw sharp money come in late with the Saints while we had early sharp money on the Colts money line, laying -200,” said Colbert.

Overall, the M Resort might have done $10 million in handle, an amount fueled by hundreds of prop bets, as well as In-running wagering, which can turn over a ton of money because of the constant, real time bets taking place.

Of course, the Las Vegas Hilton is the unquestioned leader in Super Bowl props (about half of the casino’s Super Bowl handle comes from prop bets), though sports director Jay Kornegay said players probably did well enough to cut into the Hilton’s bottom line, and “there were a lot of bets on the Saints.”

He estimated the Hilton would probably break even or come out slightly behind the players this year.

Lucky’s Sports Books, according to Jimmy Vaccaro, expected to have a winning ledger, even if it’s just a slight win, when everything is tallied, even though the “money line was bad” for the house.

Professional poker player Phil Ivey reportedly made wagers totaling well over $3 million at various sports books around town. Despite the large bets, many books by game day had the Colts at minus-190, much lower than the amount bet by Ivey.

Is it possible that Ivey was part of an overall scheme to sway the market one way? It’s not uncommon to see, but it’s uncommon to have a celebrity in the middle of it. That’s a lot of seed money to lay down, then again, if the Colts won with the Saints covering, the bettor wins both sides.

The sports books all reported great handle on the various props. The local sports books seemed to do poorer than the Strip with the special point spread props laying -3½, -7½ and -10½ with the Saints at big plus money.

Some of the other props that the public did well with was under 8 punts, yes on a defensive touchdown, the yes on the two-point conversion and player to score first.

“Pierre Garcon got a lot of respect from the public and they were playing him to be that guy to score first, and he did,” said Rood.

The Strip properties also enjoyed posting the future odds to win the Super Bowl, which had been up since last February; those wagers added about 30% extra to the winning bottom line.

“It was a really good day,” said Rood, “We did all right. We had great two-way action on the game and did well against some of the larger bets that we did take.”

Overall handle results won’t be known for another two days as the Nevada Gaming Control Board compiles all the data from across the state, but it’s safe to speculate at this point that the Strip properties held a higher win percentage than the local places.

Regardless of who did what, most bookies expect the handle will top last year’s lackluster $81.5 million, even though it probably won’t come close to the record $94.5 million wagered in 2006.

Nevada’s Gaming Control Board will report the statewide Super Bowl handle, as well as the amount won (or lost!) by the sports books later this week.

View the report as soon as it’s available here on this website.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts

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