Vegas Expected $100 Million Super Bowl

Like most of America, Robert Walker stared at the TV in February 2002 and watched as Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard field goal won the Patriots Super Bowl XXXVI. Unlike most of America, Walker figures the kick saved his job.
Walker is the director of the race and sports book at MGM Mirage in Las Vegas. He sets the lines for 14 different properties in Vegas, and on this day he was sweating out the largest bet he’d ever taken on the big game.
Someone bet $4.6 million on the Rams to beat the Patriots on that day. When Vinatieri’s kick cleared the crossbar, Walker may have been the happiest man in America.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for the Patriots and Adam Vinatieri since then,” Walker said. “If he doesn’t make that field goal, you might be talking to someone else right now.”
Next Sunday is the biggest holiday of the year in Las Vegas. Last year, a record $94 million was bet legally on the Super Bowl. This year, Vegas hopes to reach $100 million. The men in charge of bringing in all that money spent last weekend trying to figure out the best point spread to make the most amount of money.
Set the number too high and the underdog takes in too much money. Set it too low and everyone jumps on the favorite.
For Walker and his brethren, these are the two biggest weeks of the year. From the regular betting line to prop bets, they have to make placing a bet on the big game as tempting as possible.
This year’s matchup between the Colts and Bears has them thinking big bucks.
“I think it’s a phenomenal matchup,” said Chuck Esposito, the assistant VP of the race and sports book at Caesars Palace. “The Bears are one of the most popular teams with the public. The Colts have arguably the most popular player in Peyton Manning. You have the Colts offense vs. the Bears defense.”
Each of the sports-book directors interviewed said they entered last weekend with an idea of what the line would be for each potential matchup. Walker even posted lines at the Mirage for each scenario to gauge the public’s feelings. They all felt the Colts would be around 61/2- or 7-point favorites if they wound up matched with the Bears. When watching the games, they paid attention for any injuries or performances that might affect the way the public would bet.
John Avello, the director at race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas, thought the line would be Colts minus-61/2, but then decided on 7 after watching the Colts’ performance in the second half against the Patriots.
“In the third and fourth quarter, all cylinders were firing,” Avello said. “That was the last impression left in watchers’ or bettors’ minds. I’m thinking we have Peyton Manning, one of the best passers, against the Bears, who have a quarterback [Rex Grossman] that people are unsure of. But the Bears do have a great following. Instead of 61/2, I’m going to use 7.”
The line was posted immediately after the Colts-Patriots game ended last Sunday. Walker, who posted the Colts minus-61/2, saw the first seven or eight bets come in on the Colts and moved it to 7.
Most directors rely on staffs of handicappers to help them come up with the number. Once the line is posted, plenty of other people also offer up opinions.
“When I post that number, I get people running back telling me I made a mistake,” Walker said. “If some think it’s too high and some think it’s too low, I know I have it right.”
After the line and over/under are set, the sports book staffs try to finalize their prop bets, which have increased in popularity in recent years. Esposito said his staff has been working on them for the last six weeks. Caesars is credited with staring the prop bet when it posted odds on William “Refrigerator” Perry scoring a touchdown in Super Bowl XX.
“We’ll have 200 to 250 different prop bets on the board,” Esposito said. “You name it, we’ve got it on the board.”
Source: NY Post

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