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June 2, 2015

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Super Bowl result ‘a mixed bag’ for Las Vegas sports books

Sports books, in general, were not happy to see the game go over the 45-point total

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Steve Marcus

Green Bay Packers fan Nanette Valencia cheers her team against the Pittsburgh Steelers as she watches Super Bowl XLV at the Rum Runner, 1801 E. Tropicana Ave., Feb. 6, 2011.

Super Bowl

Green Bay Packers fans celebrate a touchdown against the Steelers as they watch Super Bowl XLV at the Rum Runner, 1801 E. Tropicana Ave., February 6, 2011. From left are Kyle Drodny, Alicai Williams, Jessica Buscemi, and Samantha Mentzel. Launch slideshow »

Large, last minute bets on the Pittsburgh Steelers may have saved Las Vegas sports books from enduring their first losing Super Bowl since 2008.

The Green Bay Packers are taking the Lombardi Trophy back to its original home after beating Pittsburgh 31-25 Sunday. The Packers covered the spread as 2.5-point favorites and the game also went over the total of 45 points.

That result may have sounded disastrous to sports books earlier in the week, but the damage was minimized when some of the biggest bets came in on the Steelers late.

“I’m going to assume it’s going to be a winner overall,” said Mike Colbert, Cantor Gaming sports book director, of the state-wide result. “I’d be surprised if it was a loser. It was somewhat of a mixed bag. Sometimes, all the books win. I think it was 50/50.”

It usually takes the Nevada Gaming Control Board a few days to compile betting information from each of the state’s 182 sports books and release the official numbers. Initial speculation revolves around reports from some of the city's most prominent sports book directors.

Cantor — which operates books at The M, The Venetian, Hard Rock and Tropicana — had a very successful day. Colbert may have been in the minority among bookmakers actually rooting for Green Bay.

“We took a ton of Steeler moneyline bets,” Colbert said. “I expected Steeler money to come in today and it did. It was a lot more than I expected. We really tried to balance the book, but it just so happened that the Packers were much better for us.”

Lucky’s sports books — which has locations at Terrible’s, the Plaza and Fitzgerald’s — weren’t as fortunate, but director Jimmy Vaccaro did report the same phenomenon as Colbert.

Vaccaro said when Lucky’s moved the Pittsburgh moneyline to its highest at +138 (risking $1 to win $1.38), a stream of big bets came in on it. That helped result in a loss that Vaccaro can live with.

“We were a modest loser,” Vaccaro said. “It wasn’t even bad. It was like a loss on a normal Sunday afternoon in the regular season. It was a good football season and if you have to lose a little on the Super Bowl, then so be it.”

Vaccaro said the over/under contributed more to Lucky’s loss than the side. Lucky’s and most books around town were lopsided on the over. Two days ago, 80 percent of the money bet on the total was on the over at MGM Resorts.

The game surpassed any number posted in Las Vegas midway through the fourth quarter when Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger.

“The over on these types of events never helps,” Vaccaro said. “The general public will bet the over 80 percent of the time. We had quite a few parlays with the Packers and the over. The Steelers and under parlays, I’m still looking for them.”

Pittsburgh’s Antwaan Randle El ran in a two-point conversion after Wallace’s touchdown that was just as painful to sports books.

Betting ‘yes’ on whether there would be a successful two-point conversion was one of the most popular prop bets. Most books had it posted at around +500 (risking $1 to win $5) odds.

“That was our biggest loser,” Vaccaro said. “The rest of the props fell good for us. We were fortunate. That took some of the sting out.”

Prop bettors who showed confidence in Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers were handsomely rewarded. Rodgers eclipsed nearly all of his over/under marks with 304 yards and three touchdowns on 24-for-39 passing.

Rodgers was named the Super XLV Most Valuable Player — a distinction Cantor would agree with.

“I don’t think we’re the only ones who won,” Colbert said. “But I don’t think everyone won, either.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or case.keefer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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