As dull as Super Bowl LIII was, as bad as the commercials and the halftime show were, it didn’t stop folks from betting, and winning, outside of Nevada.
For the first time, people didn’t have to travel to the Silver State to make a legal bet on the Super Bowl. And in the seven states that were offering wagering on the game, the bettors came loaded for bear with plenty of cash and plenty of knowledge. Or maybe just plain dumb luck.
In New Jersey, they took the sports books for $4.6 million as the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement said there was $34.9 million bet at the sports books at the Meadowlands, at Monmouth Park and in Atlantic City.
Maybe Bruce Springsteen was right. Maybe the gambling commission is hanging on by the skin of their teeth.
Nah. The books will survive. They always do. But it was surprising to see the handle as low as it was in Jersey. Was it the lack of properties? Was it lower limits, particularly with phone betting? Was it Patriots fatigue?
It could have been a combination of all of the above. But let’s give credit to the sharp bettors who were on board with the Patriots and/or the props to stick it to the books.
In West Virginia, the bettors prevailed as well. Erich Zimny, the vice president of racing and sports operations at Charles Town, said the handle was around $1.5 million. That’s not bad.
“We lost a little, but it wasn’t a big number,” he said. “As it got closer to game time, the New England money leveled off. We got some Rams money and we made some of it back.”
It was a similar case in Delaware where the state’s three sportsbooks booked $2.2 million and wound up losing approximately $643,000.
Down in Mississippi, it was busy. Around $5 million was bet on the game according to the state’s gaming commission.
At the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, there was lots of Rams money that showed up and the line never moved off -2.5 according to Richard Lyon, the sportsbook manager.
But the biggest party was in Rhode Island where it’s Patriots Country and the majority of bettors not only won despite laying -3, they had a great time inside the books Twin River runs in Lincoln and in Tiverton. Unfortunately, Rhode Island didn’t divulge its handle. Same for Pennsylvania.
“We had a lot of high energy,” said Twin River publicist Patti Doyle. “We were very pleased with the turnout.”
And if legislators in the remaining 42 states which don’t allow betting on individual sporting events such as the Super Bowl were paying attention, they should be shaking their heads at a missed opportunity to bring much needed revenue to their jurisdictions.
I read Monday where a state legislator in South Dakota was against the idea of legalizing sports betting, claiming it would ruin people’s lives. I’m guessing either he worked for the NCAA at one point or he thought it was still 1977 and the world was going to flock to Mount Rushmore waving stacks of cash inside the gift shop to purchase coffee mugs, T-shirts and shot glasses.
All across the nation, the message is clear – sports betting can help your state – and efforts are ramping up everywhere. In some states, it will take referendums or changing the constitution. In others, it’s a question of how far do you want to go?
But make no mistake about it, this is not going away. When you can add revenue streams for your coffers, you should do it.
My guess is when this subject is broached a year from now, we’ll be talking about significantly greater numbers in more jurisdictions. Even if Tom Brady played in Super Bowl LIV.
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