Mark Humphrey / Associated Press
Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019 | 9:24 p.m.
The loudest the M Resort sports book got on Super Bowl Sunday might have been during the opening coin toss.
Bettors inexplicably loaded up on heads and many braced themselves for the first big decision of the day as the officials picked the coin off the turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“As soon as they announced tails, you could hear a groan from outside,” said Jason Simbal, vice present of risk for CG Technology sports books, which includes M among its properties. “There wasn’t much crazy screaming besides that because it was a very dull game.”
Silence in the sports book means joy behind the betting counter.
Local bookmakers were among the only groups of people celebrating the New England Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53 Sunday night.
“Not what we expected in a game with two dynamic offenses, but from a sports book perspective, we did real well,” said Jason McCormick, Red Rock sports book director. “It was kind of a shock it shaped up so well with all the money on the Patriots but almost everything else was absolutely fantastic for us.”
Station Casinos, CG Technology and most shops may have lost slightly on the popularly-bet Patriots covering the 2.5-point spread, but they more than made up for it with a windfall on proposition wagers.
Props make up about 50 percent of the action statewide, and most bettors are drawn towards gambling on events like touchdowns and turnovers to happen and players going “over” totals in the statistics column. But in the Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl victory under coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, not much happened and not many players broke through with standout performances.
“Whenever anything weird happens, it’s bad for us,” Simbal said. “But there were no 2-point conversions, no return touchdowns — there almost weren’t any touchdowns at all. There were no weird outliers that really hurt us.”
Nevada’s approximately 200 sports books are certain to announce a profit on the Super Bowl for the 11th straight year when the Nevada Gaming Control Board totals the reports on Monday. And the hold percentage is likely to be closer to the 7.9 percent from two years ago than the narrow 0.7 percent from 2018.
The record for overall handle should also fall for the fourth consecutive year. Bettors wagered $158.58 million in the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the Eagles as 4-point favorites last year, but reports from individual books indicated higher volume in the two weeks leading up to this year’s game.
The action didn’t tail off over the weekend, as reports of multiple six-and seven-figure bets spread across the valley.
“I don’t know if we’re going to blow past the record but I think it’s going to be right there,” Simbal said. “If I had to guess, I think it’s going to be a little more than last year.”
CG Technology’ locked in a profit on the game by it falling under 55.5 points alone. It took $115,000 on the under from one bettor near kickoff, but that was offset by a deluge of over money at tourist watch parties at properties on the Strip like Tropicana and Cosmopolitan.
The Patriots’ final field goal, a 41-yarder from Stephen Gostkowski with 1:12 remaining, also proved fruitful for the house as it eliminated all teasers on the Rams. Those three points helped Stations evade what would have been a debilitating blow as it stood to endure a significant six-figure loss from a few bettors who wagered on the game having a total of 8-to-14 points at 400-to-1 odds.
“We were very happy to see that last field goal go through,” McCormick said. “They had a decision, it was fourth-and-inches, they could have gone for it. It seemed insignificant, but that decision was huge. Not only the teasers, but it covered a lot of special point spreads.”
Sports books were even able to cut into what was a massive liability on the Patriots earlier in the week. At William Hill sports books, which operates the most locations in the state, two of the three biggest wagers ended up on the Rams, including a $1.5 million bet on the money line for them to outright.
William Hill’s final split saw 55 percent of the total money wagered on the point spread on the Patriots, but 58 percent of the money line action on the Rams. The chain of sports books also ended up winning on 14 of its top 20 most popularly-bet props.
The only time other than the raucous coin toss that Simbal noticed the M crowd piping up was in the fourth quarter when Rams running back C.J. Anderson fumbled a ball deep in Patriots’ territory.
But the ball rolled out of bounds, making for yet another instance of nothing significant happening, and therefore, yet another instance of the sports book prevailing.
“Red Rock was standing-room only — a sea of people. It was so cool to stand there and see the event you were putting on, and the national anthem with everyone standing their with their hands on their chest,” McCormick said. “But I think as the game went on, it started to wear people down.”