LAS VEGAS (AP) — If being $3.3 million richer after Sunday’s Super Bowl is what Nevada sports books consider a worst-case scenario, imagine the riches if a last-minute play, second-guessed around the world, had gone a little differently.
“I can’t even tell you how many millions of dollars changed hands,” said Johnny Avello, director of the Wynn’s sports and race book of the game-ending moment that had the Seahawks throwing an interception at the end zone. He and others banked on a Seahawks win since the Patriots were favored, ever so slightly.
The state’s 191 sports books won $3.3 million of the total $116 million wagered on the Super Bowl, said Nevada Gaming Control Board officials Monday.
The amount was a drop from last year’s record-breaking bets totaling $119.4 million when sports books kept $19.7 million after the Seattle Seahawks’ easily overtook the Denver Broncos 43-8.
Wynn, Westgate Las Vegas and William Hill sports book operators said the New England Patriots’ 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks represented the worst case scenario for their businesses based on the bets placed. Plenty was at stake with gamblers wagering six-figures, in some cases, for either team. At least one gambler wagered $1 million on the Patriots.
“That bet happened here,” Avello said.
But for the grace of side bets some of the sports books’ losses might have been greater.
William Hill won $1,000 on the coin flip that turned up tails.
“That was a good start for us,” said Michael Grodsky, spokesman for William Hill which operates 105 sports books and a smartphone app in Nevada. “Could have used a little better finish.”
William Hill’s win was a modest one, down compared to last year, but the total amount of wagers with the sports book was up 10 percent year over year, he said.
Westgate Las Vegas lucked out on the coin flip, too, and the number of pass attempts.
By the time the confetti settled and Patriots Bill Belichick washed the Gatorade from his hair, Jay Kornegay from Westgate said he eked out a small win thanks to some of the few hundred side bets that went their way.
He compared it to what the sports book might rake in on a regular season college football Saturday.
“Overall, no complaints, outside the late interception,” he said Monday. And the atmosphere inside his sports book as the suspense swelled, “was unbelievable,” he said.
Then there’s the bets that don’t have anything to do with on-field play aren’t allowed in Nevada’s sports books. Off-shore and international betting sites offered returns based on whether Patriots coach Bill Belichick might crack a smile, what color Gatorade would end up on the head of the victor coach (it was blue) or if Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog would or wouldn’t see his shadow.
Oddsmaker and syndicated columnist Ben Eckstein with online site America’s Line which offers advice on picks, personally picked the Seahawks to win. He also personally bet singer Idina Menzel of “Frozen” fame would take longer than two minutes to sing the national anthem, though. When she did, he and his family including his 6 and 7 year old grandchildren cheered.
He recorded two minutes, five seconds on his stopwatch.
“I killed it,” Eckstein said, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised if the singer could hold a single note for two minutes.
He guessed right, too, that there would be more than 8.5 punts.
“There are those props that you can really dig your teeth into and make some money on,” he said, referring to some of the proposition bets. “It wasn’t a bad day overall.”
He estimated he lost a few bucks, the cost of a cup of coffee, after all was counted.
Johnny Avello from Wynn said his sports book lost money but it wasn’t his largest loss. On Monday, he had already moved on and talked about taking basketball bets and the start of March Madness in seven weeks.
At least there wasn’t a safety during Sunday’s game.
For two out of the last three years, Avello said his book lost six figures in the first seconds of the game when the rare score occurred.
He and others have their odds ready for the next Super Bowl for weeks. Westgate and William Hill odds favor the Seahawks 5-1 with the Patriots 6-1. Avello has the Seahawks at 6-1 and the Patriots at 8-1.
“We just love what we do,” Avello said.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.