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Gaming Guru

Matt Youmans

Big Haul, But Not For Bettors: Books Get All They Can Handle

9 February 2005

In terms of dynasties, the New England Patriots don't compare to Nevada sports books.

A record of just under $90.8 million was wagered on Super Bowl XXXIX, and the state's 173 sports books won a record $15.4 million, according to figures released Tuesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Nevada sports books have posted a win in 10 consecutive Super Bowls. The Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 on Sunday, winning their second consecutive Super Bowl and third in four years.

"I was shocked," Stardust sports book director Bob Scucci said. "The win didn't shock me, but certainly the total handle did."

In last year's Super Bowl, the Patriots' win over Carolina produced a record total handle of $81.2 million and a record win of $12.4 million for the state's 152 books.

"Last year, we were really surprised with the jump. It all came back to the economy turning around, and we also saw that in the rest of the gaming numbers," said Frank Streshley, the control board's statistical analyst.

Streshley credited marketing efforts by the casinos for attracting more visitors for Super Bowl weekend. But he said in the days leading up to the game "we had gotten mixed signals" from sports book directors about whether the handle would set a record.

The handle of $90,759,236 was up 11.7 percent over last year, the win of $15,430,138 was up 24 percent, and the books' 17.0 win percentage also set a record.

Station Casinos sports book director Micah Roberts said he expected the bigger numbers.

"The other books I talked to all said the handle was up," Roberts said. "Our numbers were exactly indicative of that, as far as the increase goes."

MGM Mirage sports book director Robert Walker estimated the handle would be $70 to $77 million but said the handle at his books was up 5 percent over last year. He took several six-figure bets, the largest for $550,000 on New England as a 7-point favorite.

Roberts said he expected the Patriots' dominance and the hype surrounding injured Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens to create betting interest in the matchup.

New England did not cover the spread and the game went under the total of 47 1/2, two factors that contributed greatly to the casinos' win.

Streshley said the books needed the Patriots to win but not cover. He said the most popular wagers statewide were on the Patriots laying the points, the Eagles to win straight up on the money line and for the score to go over the total. Most parlays were on the Patriots and the over. Proposition betting also was profitable for the books.

"The last touchdown was huge for the sports books," Streshley said, referring to Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb's TD pass with 1:48 remaining that cut the final deficit to three points.

Scucci said the last score "had to double" the win for the books. "It would not have set a state record otherwise."

Nevada sports books showed a Super Bowl loss of $396,674 in 1995, when San Francisco routed San Diego.

The total amount wagered on the Super Bowl has increased each of the past four years and is up from $71.5 million in 2002, when New England started its run by beating St. Louis.


A summary of the performances by Nevada sports books for the past 10 Super Bowls:

Year Wagers Win Win Pct. Score

2005 $90,759,236 $15,430,138 17.0 Patriots 24, Eagles 21

2004 $81,242,191 $12,440,698 15.3 Patriots 32, Panthers 29

2003 $71,693,032 $5,264,963 7.3 Buccaneers 48, Raiders 21

2002 $71,513,304 $2,331,607 3.3 Patriots 20, Rams 17

2001 $67,661,425 $11,002,636 16.3 Ravens 34, Giants 7

2000 $71,046,751 $4,237,978 6.0 Rams 23, Titans 16

1999 $75,986,520 $2,906,601 3.8 Broncos 34, Falcons 19

1998 $77,253,246 $472,033 0.6 Broncos 31, Packers 24

1997 $70,853,211 $2,265,701 3.2 Packers 35, Patriots 21

1996 $70,907,801 $7,126,145 10.1 Cowboys 27, Steelers 17