A Record Sports Betting Handle For The Super Bowl In Nevada?

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Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

Not this year. Not even close.

Tuesday’s release of the betting numbers by the Nevada Gaming Control Board showed the state’s handle on the game was just over $136 million. That’s well short of the record of $158.58 million set in 2018. In fact, the handle this year was the lowest in five years for Nevada.

The Good News?

The state’s sportsbooks won $12.5 million, a percentage of 9.2%.

It was the same scene at every Nevada sportsbook on Super Bowl Sunday with limited seating and smaller parties. But with the help of mobile phone apps, there weren’t a lot of books unhappy with their overall handle in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-9 win over the favored Kansas City Chiefs (-3).

Most books had similar stories on how they won and lost on the day with the biggest win coming from the game staying under (56) and the biggest loss being on Super Bowl futures and the Bucs money line (+140).

“It was a very solid day for us,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “We did well in three-fourths of the main categories. We did well on the point spread, total and props. The Bucs money line was the only negative, but we’re not complaining. We’ll take that every year.

“It was a satisfying day. Handle was almost exactly the number we posted last year despite the future pool being well below last year (due to the pandemic). We actually wrote more on this year’s game than we did last year.”

The handle for the game was larger than last season at the SuperBook despite no huge rush from visitors on Friday and Saturday. The phone accounts may have been the big winner here.

“We ended up with a good win,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “Zip on the future book, but the under, parlay cards, and props all shook out O.K.”

William Hill’s 100-plus sportsbooks in Nevada were elated with their phone handle with head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich telling me last week that 70% of their handle on the game was through the phones.

“We lost on futures, lost on the money line, but won the total, side, and won a little on the props,” Bogdanovich said. “It was a solid day with a monster handle.”

I got the feeling between Kornegay and Bogdanovich that a Nevada state Super Bowl record of $158 million in handle could be challenged. Nevada’s BetMGM sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback wasn’t so confident but was happy with the result.

“It was a decent day for us, the under (56) was best for us,” Stoneback said. “The props turned out O.K. as well, but we lost seven-figures in Super Bowl futures.”

Big Game, Big Bets

Quite a few people had large bets all over Las Vegas taking 50-1 and 60-1 odds before Tom Brady was announced as his destination on March 19 where most books dropped down to 14-1 odds after Brady signed with Tampa.

Stoneback had unforeseen issues occur on Sunday that went beyond the game. The technology of the phones helped books create more volume but it also shut a major chain of books down at the worst moment.

“We were down from about 10 minutes to kickoff until 9:30 p.m. (PT) and while most of the people affected were understanding about the situation there were a few that were very vocal about being unhappy and not getting paid right after the game,” Stoneback said.

It’s the most helpless feeling as the boss of a book when the system shuts down and not knowing how to fix it. Magnify the feeling times 100 on Super Bowl day. The volume through the phones and counter stressed out the system BetMGM uses.

The good news for Stoneback and the MGM books on the strip was that they didn’t have their usual Super Bowl crowd.

“The Mirage had only 47% occupancy on Saturday night,” he said. “We have more people coming for Valentine’s Day weekend next week.”

The results of not having as much over-the-counter cash coming in on Saturday and Sunday is what made Stoneback a bit skeptical of setting a Nevada Super Bowl handle record. However, they had bigger bets this season than 2020 such as $2.3 million bet on the Bucs +3.5 (-115), $500,000 bet on the Chiefs money line, and on game day had another $2.5 million on the Chiefs money line as well as $1 million teaser on the Bucs to over (+9, 50) which lost.

That’s over $6 million on handle alone on four different bets. That’s some huge action. But they also didn’t give their players the option to bet in-game or halftime, which is another huge chunk expected.

The South Point’s Chris Andrews said they did “really good” and also had a surprise for their guests with newly retired NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan writing tickets at window No. 12. No word on the void count, but it’s something he and his father South Point owner Micheal Gaughan have been doing for years to chip in.

Circa Sports director Matt Metcalf said they “had a good day and lost a couple of big parlays to Tampa, but it ended up being the best result for them outside of KC winning by 1 or 2.”

Up north at the Atlantis Reno sportsbook, director Marc Nelson said he would have preferred another result, but they still ended up winning over 8% on the day. He needed Chiefs and under the most. Nelson stayed at -3.5 (EVEN), the longest in the state.

All the books stayed unified in not moving below -3 down to -2.5 and all needed the under 56, which the sharps bet down early from 57. Parlay risk with the over connected with either team was gigantic.

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