It may not have been a record-setting day for Nevada sports books, but the Super Bowl produced more handle, more customers and more excitement than last year’s game.
"We had overflow crowds in the sports book, the atmosphere was electric, and betting was up from last year," said Chuck Esposito, race and sports director at Caesars Palace. "Overall, the crowd surpassed last year’s, and we’re very pleased with the results."
Pleased with the results? Translation: the books won more bets than they lost.
Many sports books reported early betting action on New England, with Carolina backers taking the number closer to game time. The spread opened at New England —61/2 in many casinos and reached as high as 71/2 in some spots.
"If the number landed on 7 points, it would have been a disaster for the books," said Erik St. Clair, sports director at the Rampart and Cannery casinos. "But we’re very happy with the outcome (Patriots won 32-29, but did not cover the point spread), and our handle was up from last year’s numbers."
St. Clair added that another bad scenario for sports books would have been a parlay that included New England covering the 7 points, coupled with an "over" the total of 38 points (the total soared to 61 points).
Station Casinos reported that its network of sports books "won the only way they could," that is, by having the Patriots win the game on the money line, but lose to the point spread.
Art Manteris said that Station sports books "sailed" past last year’s handle, and that he was somewhat surprised, given the two teams that played this year.
Also surprised at the apparent strength of interest in the game was Bob Scucci, race and sports director at the Stardust.
Scucci acknowledged that big bets (five figures and higher) were down this year, but that "we took a lot more" smaller wagers.
Down the street, Jay Kornegay at the Imperial Palace, agreed that betting appeared to be up over last year’s Super Bowl. He added that the action was "hot and heavy" for most of the weekend.
At Brad Bryant, who recently took over the reins at the Aladdin’s sports book, said this year produced "one of the better Super Bowls," and that parlay cards and proposition bets were huge in producing a good day for the house.
Last year, Nevada sports books handled $71.7 million for the Super Bowl, which was down from a high of $77.2 million reached on the Denver-Green Bay Super Bowl in 1998.
Most Las Vegas bookmakers said they believed this year’s handle could surpass last year’s total, though it may not top the previous high.
The results for Super Bowl betting won’t be released from the Nevada Gaming Control Board until later in the week.