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Las Vegas sports books expected to post modest profit on Super Bowl 46

Early safety causes big payouts, but proposition wagering helpful for books overall

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Steve Marcus

Andrew Gordon, right, of Miami celebrates a New Giants touchdown as he watches the Super Bowl at the Las Vegas Hotel’s Superbook Sunday, February 5, 2012.

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Jennifer Schilling, center, of St. Louis celebrates with other New York Giants fans at the Las Vegas Hotel's Superbook as the Giants score a touchdown with less than a minute to play Sunday, February 5, 2012. Launch slideshow »

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The overload of betting options available on Super Bowl 46 worked in the favor of Las Vegas sports books Sunday evening.

While the 3-point underdog New York Giants beating the New England Patriots 21-17 in Indianapolis was far from ideal, books made up for slight losses on the point spread through other avenues like proposition wagering.

“We ended up winning a ham sandwich,” said Lucky’s sports book director Jimmy Vaccaro. “We won the first and second halves. We would have won real big if it would have come any other way than the Giants and under.”

The Super Bowl went under the total, which closed around 54 at most books in the valley, for the sixth time in the past eight years. Public bettors traditionally bet the over and cheer for points in games like the Super Bowl, but they eschewed that trend this year in several locations.

The under, however, wasn’t a poor result for everyone. Mike Colbert, sports book director at Cantor Gaming, said his shop would have lost money with the over.

Cantor made a minor profit overall.

“The real reason, to be honest, was the props,” Colbert said. “The props really helped us. Under was good for us, but we’re a small winner for the day because of props.”

The low-scoring nature of the game translated into many of the props on individual players going under. That was exactly what the sports books wanted.

For instance, the LVH (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) Superbook listed New York quarterback Eli Manning’s over/under passing yards at 308 and New England quarterback Tom Brady’s at 319. Neither threw for more than 300, as Manning finished with 296 yards and Brady had 276.

“Both quarterbacks staying under was very big for us,” Colbert said. “(New York receiver) Victor Cruz only having for catches was very big for us. Those were three of the best.”

Books were forced to deal with one disastrous scenario at the beginning of the game. The first score came when the Giants recorded a safety because of an intentional grounding call on Brady in the end zone.

At MGM Resorts properties, a few bettors cashed 50-to-1 tickets on a safety registering as the first score. Betting ‘yes’ on a safety happening in the game at +800 and a safety or a field goal coming before a touchdown at a plus-price were also popular plays at MGM.

“Add that up and we started off a quarter-million in the hole,” said Jay Rood, sports book director of MGM Resorts International. “That wasn’t any good.”

But Rood was mostly enthused by the end of the game. Although MGM lost money with bettors taking New York to win the game straight-up on the money line, it did well on the point spread.

“We really had a lot of Patriot money show up yesterday,” Rood said. “Our volume was very good, a little bit up from last year. It was a good day all-in-all.”

Bettors swarmed sports books with money on New York before this weekend. But New England garnered far more support in the final 48 hours.

The trend toward the Patriots evened out the action and likely ensured that Nevada would post a profit on the Super Bowl for the 16th time in the last 17 years.

“If it would have come this way 24 hours ago, it would have been one of the worst Super Bowls,” Vaccaro said. “But we got what we thought we were going to get late, which was a bunch of Patriots money.”

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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