The Carolina Panthers, who opened as a favorite by as few as 3.5 points, enter the Super Bowl at -5 after hitting -5.5 on most boards.
The shift in the spread reflects a shift in bettor preferences. Early on, when experienced gamblers take advantage of lines they expect to rise or fall, bettors laid heavy money on Carolina. Some sports books reported close to 90 percent of early bets coming in on Carolina. But as game day approached casual gamblers preferred to take Denver and the points. Although most money still rides on the Panthers, the late money on Denver created a more equitable distribution of bets that makes it unlikely that the house takes a hard hit either way.
Gamblers, particularly casual ones, betray a penchant to bet favorites and the over. Favorites own a 26-20-2 mark in covering the spread in Super Bowls. Point-total bets spread more equally between “overs” and “unders,” with bets on the teams eclipsing the total winning in four of the last five seasons.
The over-under, which opened at 45.5 at many sports books, now comes in at 44.5.
More exotic prop bets include the color of Gatorade dumped on the winning coach, the number of towels Cam Newton places on his body at once, and whether Peyton Manning announces his retirement at the post-game press conference.
The American Gambling Association estimates that Americans will wager $4.2 billion on the Super Bowl.