I don't know if you're aware of this, but people actually bet on the Super Bowl. Real money.
Yeah, they pick a team, watch the game, and either collect the cash or rip up the ticket. Don't let the NFL know this--they act like sports betting (legal or illegal) doesn't exist. Any sports fan knows betting is the driving force behind the record TV ratings the NFL sees year after year--perhaps another column for another day.
This year, sports books in Nevada are expecting a new record for money bet--$95 million is the previous record from the 2006 game. With a West Coast vs. East Coast match-up between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, emotions will run high at the betting window. But, there is another reason to expect big money on this year's Super Bowl--bettors have had a great season beating "the house" in football, both college and pro.
John Avello, Executive Director of Wynn Las Vegas Race and Sports says this is the best year bettors have had in 15 years and he adds, "they have a lot of bullets," meaning the bankrolls are big and people are ready to gamble on the final game of the NFL season.
I know sports books in Vegas usually say they lose money every year, but this year they really mean it. You can tell by many of the line moves in big games that it has been a fun one for the bettors. But overall, very few people actually make money in the long run betting sports. There's a reason the casinos look so nice.
The money has mainly been going the Ravens way during the playoffs. For the last two weeks they have been underdogs, and won outright. "The Ravens did great two weeks in a row on the money line and bettors like the way they have come back strong in the second half of games," adds Avello.
So far, the bettors love the Ravens in the Super Bowl. At Wynn Las Vegas, Avello opened the game with San Francisco -5 and it has been bet down to -4, meaning early money has been coming in on Baltimore. Avello is not sure how far that line will move, or whether it will move back up with late money coming in on the Niners. "Big money" usually comes in late.
There are also the "proposition bets," which are always fun. Those are the ones where you bet on everything from the coin toss, to whether Colin Kapernick and Ray Lewis will exchange pleasantries in the Niners backfield (you can list that under "total sacks.") Prop bets are interesting, but you have to be careful when choosing. It's a long list with a lot of options (I still remember hitting Mike Alstott of Tampa Bay scoring the first TD in the Super Bowl 10 years ago in San Diego), but props are not where the big money is made. That's on the game itself--pick a side, or pick the total number of points scored (which, at last check, is 47.)
Beyonce performs at halftime. Even money says she has a wardrobe malfunction (that's my number, you can't bet that in Vegas).
I'd give you my picks, but whadda I know, or what does anybody else who calls themselves "wise guys" really know?
Now, this is just the legal side of sports betting ... I hear there are sometimes illegal bets made on the Super Bowl. Estimates are $100 billion is bet each year illegally on football in the United States. Everything from million dollar wagers to your $5 office pool (yes, technically that's illegal.) So, make your picks and place your bets, and I'll ask you to please come to Nevada to do it (I would never encourage anything illegal).
Also, please don't let the NFL know about this.