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Matt Youmans

Nevada reports $116 million wagered on Super Bowl

3 February 2015

LAS VEGAS -- With everything on the line, Russell Wilson threw an interception that cost the Seattle Seahawks a second straight Super Bowl win.

It was a costly mistake for Nevada’s sports books, too. The Seahawks' loss meant a swing of several million dollars for bookmakers.

The state's handle on Sunday's game was almost $116 million, according to figures released Monday by the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, just shy of last year's record of $119.4 million.

The New England Patriots secured a 28-24 victory over the Seahawks when Malcolm Butler picked off Wilson's pass in the end zone in the final minute. The state's 191 books won more than $3.2 million for a paltry hold percentage of 2.8. But, what if Seattle had won the game?

"It would have been astronomical. Everyone in the state, I think, would have had a big win," MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. "A yard and a half and the state probably has the best Super Bowl ever."

The Seahawks' final drive of Super Bowl XLIX died at the 1-yard line in a dramatic and memorable conclusion. Instead of handing the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch on second down, Seattle opted to pass, and the play call has been heavily criticized.

"It's easy to coach now, but even I would have said just keep running the ball," said South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, echoing the thoughts of the majority. "It was a horrendous play call."

Westgate Las Vegas sports book director Jay Kornegay said he was "shocked" by the play call, but he was not stunned to see the handle on the game come up short of the record.

The books recorded a win percentage of 16.5 last year, when the Seahawks slaughtered Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-8.

"It didn't really surprise me to see the handle down a little bit, but $115.9 million is not too shabby because it's the second-biggest Super Bowl ever," Kornegay said. "It's a hard thing to predict. It's hard to measure because you don't know what all the different books are doing. Our handle was a little above last year. We ended up being a small winner.

"The general public was infatuated with the Broncos last year. I guess they like Peyton Manning a little more than Tom Brady."

Brady completed 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Patriots, who drew about 60 percent of the side wagers in the first pick'em game in Super Bowl history. Brady was a big winner for bettors who supported him in proposition wagers, but the books did well on the props to help overcome their loss on the Seahawks.

The books also absorbed losses by paying out popular parlays on the Patriots and over the total of 47½, in addition to teaser bets that paid off all four ways on the side and total.

"Anybody who walked to the counter and uttered the word 'teaser' won. The win was probably what everyone did on props, and we were up quite a bit on props," said Rood, adding that MGM Resorts' overall handle was "up about 3 percent" from last year.

The largest wager at MGM's books was for $1.22 million on the Patriots at pick'em.

"The room was full, people were betting and we had a good handle," Rood said, "so I was happy with that."