- Super Bowl LVI is now in the books as the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.
- The underdog Bengals covered the +4.5 point spread and the game stayed ‘Under’ the total of 48.5.
- The perfect scenario for sportsbooks is usually the favorite to win but not cover and the game to stay ‘Under’.
The Super Bowl is always the ‘biggest betting day of the year’ for US facing sportsbooks. This is not only due to sizable betting volume but also the heavy interest in the ‘public’ on the NFL’s championship game. This volatile mix is usually a good one for sportsbooks and it is extremely rare for them not to turn a profit on the ‘big game’. Nevada began releasing detailed sports betting revenue stats in 1991, and since then there have been only two years that produced a losing result for bookmakers in the Silver State. In 1995, the San Francisco 49ers beat the (then) San Diego Chargers 49-26 and Nevada sportsbooks suffered a fractional loss (-0.6% hold) totaling around $400k of the $69.5 million USD bet on the game. In 2008, the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots 17-14 and Nevada books lost $2.5 million USD on a handle of just over $92 million USD–a hold percentage of -2.8%.
Every other Super Bowl since 1991 has produced a profit for the ‘house’–it’s just a matter of how much. That’s 30 profitable years out of the past 32, if you’re scoring at home. The two figures that sportsbooks are concerned with are the ‘handle’ (the amount of money wagered on the game) and the ‘hold’ (the profit made on the game). Last year’s game was the lowest since 2016 with Nevada’s Super Bowl LV handle at $136,096,460, a substantial drop from $154.6 million in ‘handle’ on the previous year’s game. The books did make money, however, with a hold percentage of 9.2% good for $12,574,125 in profit. That hold percentage was the fourth highest in the past decade. The most profitable year ever for the sportsbooks came in 2014 as the Seattle Seahawks routed the favored Denver Broncos 43-8. That year, bookmakers wrote $119.4 million in wagers and held $19.6 million in profit for a hold percentage of 16.5.
A big handle does not always equate to a strong hold percentage. In fact, the opposite is often true as was illustrated last year. The all time record for Super Bowl handle came in 2108 when $158.5 million was bet on Philadelphia’s 41-33 win over the New England Patriots. Despite the massive handle that year books scrapped out only a small profit of $1.1 million for a hold percentage of 0.7%. We’re awaiting the official Super Bowl revenue data from the Nevada Gaming Control Board and some of the other major sports betting states and we’ll provide analysis once we get it.
Anecdotally, it could be a big year for the ‘house’. Handle will almost certainly be up over last year when the COVID-19 pandemic clearly took a toll on the betting in many states–particularly Nevada, which has a higher exposure to retail betting than mobile centric states like New Jersey or Colorado. The hold will be the most interesting number as the outcome of Super Bowl LVI could not have gone better for sportsbooks. Generally speaking, the best result for sportsbooks in any Super Bowl is for the favorite to win but not cover in a relatively low scoring game that goes ‘Under’ the total. That’s because in most years the ‘public’ bets the pointspread favorite, the moneyline dog and the game to go ‘Over’ the total. This year’s game produced the ideal scenario for sportsbooks as the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 but failed to cover the -4.5 point spread with the game staying ‘Under’ the posted total of 48.5.
Out in Nevada, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Super Bowl betting and spoke to a number of bookmakers around town. The most important outcome? According to Boyd Gaming sportsbooks VP Bob Scucci it was the total:
“Most people betting on the Rams are laying points, and people betting the Bengals bet them to win the game. But the under was the big one. Because whether they bet the Bengals or the Rams, everybody seemed to parlay them with the over.”
Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said it was the biggest Super Bowl win ever for Station Casinos:
“What a kind of Hollywood ending with the way that game finished. Giving them the ball back with 1:25 left, with the way this season has gone, I thought there was a real chance it could go to overtime. But the Cinderella slipper finally fell off.”
The ‘public’ did hit a couple of big prop wins–Odell Beckham, Jr. was a popular choice to score the first touchdown of the game at 8-1 odds and sportsbooks lost more money when Bengals running back Joe Mixon throwing a TD pass to Tee Higgins on a ‘trick play’. The ‘public’ also backed the ‘Over’ on the number of players to have a pass attempt at 2.5.
According to LVRJ’s report, BetMGM and Ceasars Sportsbook won seven figures on the game while the South Point, Boyd Gaming and the Westgate Superbook were also solid winners. We’ll have the official numbers when we get them.
VSIN did an interview with sports betting legend Billy Walters. Must watch stuff….