We wanted to chat with some Vegas and online sportsbook managers for a quick Q&A session on Super Bowl betting and Super Bowl props.
So with the biggest betting day of the year only hours away, here are some thoughts from the men who set the lines and come up with those cool props.
[ Looking to bet the game now? Check out the matchup report and list of top sportsbooks | Reading this in Las Vegas? Check out The Wynn and the Westgate, home of the Super Contest ]
Matt Simo conducted the interviews with officials from The Wynn in Vegas (John Avello, Executive Director of Race & Sports Operations),Bovada.lv (Kevin Bradley, sportsbook manager) and Topbet.eu (Mike Jerome, lines manager).
How big is sports betting for the Super Bowl (and is there a way to put this in context)?
Mike Jerome at TopBet: If you include all the props and futures (odds to win Super Bowl included) that we offer on it, the Super Bowl makes up 7 percent of our total betting volume for the year.
Johnny Avello at The Wynn: The way to look at it is, the whole state (of Nevada) does about roughly $3.5 billion (for sports betting), and this game does somewhere around $100 million. Last year, it was $120 (million). So that right there will tell you how much of the whole year this game is, 3 percent really is what it is.
Kevin Bradley at Bovada.lv: The NFL is about 20% of our whole year in sports betting and the Super Bowl is 5-10% of the total money we take on the NFL. So roughly 2 per cent.”
Most people think of betting the game and lines, but what value do proposition bets bring to this event? Does it bring the once-a-year type of bettor (marginal) into the equation? Do prop bets get more action than traditional bets?
Bradley: Prop bets are something we take pride in; we offer prop bets throughout the whole year in every sport, entertainment, politics and business, but there is no question that the Super Bowl prop bets started the popularity of this type of wagering. About 30% of our new clients that sign up leading up to Super Bowl their first bet ever is on some sort of prop so that shows the significance props play in our business.
Jerome: I think there are definitely some value plays when it comes to Super Bowl props bets. Just look at the coin toss, only have to lay 3 cents juice on this prop. Typically have to lay 10 cents juice on a NFL game line. Prop bets make just under 30 percent of our total Super Bowl betting handle.
Avello: When you first put them up, it’s 100 percent sharps betting them. That’s what they’re doing, they’re just waiting for you to put them up, trying to find the weak spots, trying to put one place against another. They’re trying to arbitrage the props, that’s all it is. After that, it’s basically all the guests coming to town that bet them. So what happens is the sharps hit them first and then the guys coming to town get the second shot at them. That’s kind of the way it is. I’d say the sharps are only about maybe 15 percent of the action.
I heard that prop bets exploded with the “Will Refrigerator Perry score a touchdown” bet. Any idea on when the “entertaining” bets came into being, i.e., length of the national anthem, wardrobe changes, first commercial, etc.?
Bradley: Perry scoring a TD to me is a prop, but nothing compared to what we offer now and, online, we have the freedom to offer pretty much anything we want. Yes sometimes they can be hard to grade, like will Bill Belichick smile on camera in the Super Bowl, but this type of prop betting really started I would say about 10 years ago once online gaming became more and more popular.
Jerome: Super Bowl prop bets really started to get popular mid-1990s thanks in large part to Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. Many of those guys that made those prop bets are now at Westgate Sportsbook. The guys at Imperial palace not only offered quality Super Bowl props, they offered a high quantity of props as well. It’s one of those things where if you have the creative insight, the sky’s the limit as far as Super Bowl props you can offer.
Avello: That’s happened within the last 15 years. There was never anybody doing that many. There were very few props back in those days, it’s not like you had a whole board of them. Now, every place has a couple hundred props. Back then, it was just a few to try to enhance the betting. But now it’s snowballed into a monster. What makes it so difficult is that you have to put it all on paper, and people have to come up and bet them over the counter. The offshores have the luxury of just typing something in and having guys just bet it online or through your mobile device. That makes it easier for them, plus they’re not restricted by a gaming board, so that’s why they throw up all that other stuff.
What is your favorite proposition bet of all time?
Bradley: I have done so many, but one that always stands out was after the Tebow era where every week we had props on him was “What will he do first? Throw another TD Pass in the NFL or admit to having Sexual Intercourse.” Yes maybe a bit offside but I still laugh at that one when I see it in our system since we are still waiting to grade it!”
Jerome: I like the national anthem over/under time in seconds prop. Since you get new performers every year, the over/under number is always different. We usually scour the internet, going to YouTube, and such to try and find past performances of the artist performing the national anthem. This year we have Time It Takes Idina Menzel To Sing National Anthem as 122.5 seconds. We opened it 121.5 seconds and 88% of the early money was on the over, so we moved it up another second. This is always one of the most popular props with the betting public. It is a prop you can get many people to bet, people who don’t normally bet on the NFL.
Avello: My favorite, and we still do it, is the average number of all the jerseys to score a touchdown. I think that’s my favorite because it takes a little bit of thinking. You have to figure out who may score, if #85 scores and #12 scores twice, so that’s one of my favorites. That’s ours, we have a lot of our own individual props, and I’m sure everybody has their own. But there’s some that we have originated here that we continue to stay with.