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Inside Gaming: Experts Predict Record Numbers for Betting on Super Bowl

Inside Gaming: Experts Predict Record Numbers for Betting on Super Bowl
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  • Super Bowl LIII is Sunday, and industry observers are predicting more money will bet on it than ever.

  • A new legal sports betting landscape in the U.S. means more options for Super Bowl bettors.

Bettors and Books Readying for the Big Game

Are you ready for some football?

In just two days, Super Bowl LIII will play out between the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams and the AFC champion New England Patriots at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

While fans and analysts continue to try to predict the game's outcome, there is one almost sure bet — more money will be wagered on this year's Super Bowl than ever before.

Like every year, hype surrounding the game has been building to a fever pitch. There something new to talk about this time, however, given the recent expansion of sports betting in the United States, bringing added attention to what is traditionally the most bet upon sporting event of the year.

The Patriots (11-5) return to the Super Bowl for a third straight year after losing last year's championship to the Philadelphia Eagles in a 41-33 thriller. Sunday will mark the ninth Super Bowl appearance since 2002 for New England, during which period the Patriots have won five Super Bowls in eight tries.

The Rams (13-3), meanwhile, return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2002 when the franchise was located in St. Louis and their opponent was also New England. The Patriots won that contest 20-17 to launch a run of postseason success that still continues.

Most sportsbooks currently list the Patriots as a 2.5-point favorite on Sunday, with the over/under line hovering around 56.5 points at most locations.

New England was an even greater favorite heading into last year's contest with the Eagles, when they were listed as a 4.5-point favorite at most sportsbooks.

Wagering on the Big Game More Popular Than Ever

Last year more money was wagered on the Super Bowl in Nevada sportbooks than ever before, with the total handle exceeding $158.5 million. That was nearly $20 million more than had been bet the previous year, and more than twice what sports bettors put at risk the last time the Rams and Patriots met in the Super Bowl in 2002.

Despite the large handle, sportsbooks only collectively realized about $1.17 million in revenue from those bets on last year's Super Bowl, much less than the $10.9 million from the previous year and well below the record $19.7 million in revenue NV sportsbooks enjoyed from the Super Bowl in 2014 when Seattle throttled Denver 43-8.

The American Gaming Association estimates Americans will bet approximately $6 billion on Super Bowl LIII.

That figure is well above last year's figure of $4.76 billion the AGA estimated was bet on the Big Game a year ago. Last year the AGA estimated about 97 percent of the money wagered was done so illegally, and it is safe to say most of that $6B figure is comprised by illegal bets as well.

More Betting Options for Super Bowl LIII

Even so, this year Americans have more legal options when it comes to betting on sports thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court having ruled in May 2018 the federal prohibition against sports betting to be unconstitutional. Since then seven states have joined Nevada to begin offering legal sports betting — Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

As a result, industry observers have predicted as much as $325 million will be wagered legally on this year's Super Bowl, according to Legal Sports Report.

Not only will there be new options for bettors located in states now offering legalizes sports betting, there will be even more Super Bowl "prop" bets available this time around.

In most cases those betting on football games and similar contests place the great majority of bets either on the spread, the over/under, or the "moneyline" (a straight-up bet on which team will win).

However when it comes to the Super Bowl often as much as half of the money wagered is on other "team props" (mostly involving teams' statistical performance), "individual props" (involving single players), or unusual props including those involving extracurricular activities like the singing of the national anthem or the halftime show.

Seasoned sports bettors typically steer clear of prop bets, though since sportsbooks offer so many for the Super Bowl (hundreds of them), some see opportunities in the props. For example, this week Forbes listed a few props that professional gamblers are highlighting as worth betting, among them...

  • the Patriots converting a fourth down attempt (-150)
  • Rams quarterback Jared Goff throwing for more than 285.5 yards (-110)
  • Patriots running back Sony Michel rushing more than 17.5 times (-110)

Meanwhile the betting pros say to avoid props like those concerning which player will score the first touchdown, those predicting the total number of touchdowns scored, and those predicting the exact final score. Too much of a longshot to place money on these sucker bets, they say.

You can always bet on the coin flip, too, with sportsbooks more than happy to take juice on what is necessarily exactly a 50-50 proposition. This week poker writer and sports bettor Jesse May shared a funny story from a past Super Bowl when betting on the coin flip prop went terribly wrong.

Photo: "Sports Betting at a Las Vegas Casino," Baishampayan Ghose, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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