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Despite a lengthy anthem, the "public" wins Super Bowl XLII

7 February 2008

By Gary Trask

You wouldn't know it by the ticker tape and confetti that's still lying all over New York City, but Super Bowl XLII was a bust for sports books across the globe.

Judging from the numbers released this week by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the state's sports books lost money on Super Bowl wagers this year for the first time since 1995 and for just the second time since the board began compiling Super Bowl-specific numbers in 1991.

"Unaudited figures show a loss of $2,573,103 was recorded on wagers totaling $92,055,833," said Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander of the report that was based on the numbers from 174 sports books. "This resulted in a win percentage of minus 2.80 percent."

That number dwarfed the 0.6% that was lost in the 1995 game when the San Francisco routed the San Diego Chargers, 49-26. A total of $69,591,818 was bet on that game with a loss of $396,674.

Much of the blame for this year's bettor's bonanza is being on blamed on the fact that the "public" supported the N.Y. Giants heavily in the game. The Giants, who were an 12-point underdog and +$450 on the money line, upset the previously undefeated New England Patriots, 17-14, thanks to a touchdown with 35 seconds left in the game.

"The Giants turned out to be public darlings," Jimmy Vaccaro, an odds maker for told the Associated Press. "When the Giants did something good, it was about 70-30 applause [in Las Vegas sports books] as opposed to when the Patriots did something good."

The more than $92 million bet on the game ranked third-highest in history with the 2006 game between Pittsburgh and Seattle remaining at the No. 1 spot at $94,534,372. Second on the list is last year's game between Chicago and Indianapolis when $93,067,358 was wagered. By comparison, $40,080,409 was wagered on the 1991 game between the N.Y. Giants and the Buffalo Bills, the first year the Board began compiling these statistics.

A main reason for the rise in the amount wagered is the proliferation of proposition bets, a trend that was detailed in last week's Online Casino City Times.

Some of the more interesting prop bets that were mentioned in this story included the national anthem, where we predicted correctly that American Idol winner Jordin Sparks would sing the anthem in over 1:42 and she did just that by clocking a 1:58 with a stirring (and profitable) rendition.

Elsewhere, sports bettors who follow the golden rule "never bet against Tiger Woods" were rewarded as the world's No. 1 golfer birdied his last two holes, and five of his last seven, in the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic to give him nine on the day. This gave Tiger and his backers an easy win in the prop bet that asked who will have more: Tiger Woods birdies or Randy Moss receptions. Moss, who scored what appeared to be a game-clinching TD with just under three minutes left in the game, had five receptions in the game.

A bet on New England tight end Ben Watson to have a more receptions than the total goals scored in the Fulham/Aston soccer match on Sunday would have lost even if the game ended nil-nil. Watson was shut out by the Giants while the other "futbol" game went down as a 2-1 Fulham victory. And as for the bet on who will have more: total points by the Patriots and Giants or total points in the Scotland and France rugby match, the football teams were getting a 13 ½ point cushion in that wager and they needed it since they scored a total of 31 and the rugby match ended with France winning a 27-6 hard-fought decision.

An aging Tom Petty opened the halftime show with American Girl, which cashed in at 3-to-1 while New England's Laurence Maroney scored the game's first TD as a 6-to-1 bet.

As for 2008's most-clever prop bet – the color of the liquid that was used to douse the winning head coach – if you were a Patriot backer in this game and had yellow as your bet here at 3-to-1 the last-minute loss was twice as painful. Our bird dogs tell us that the players on the Patriots' sideline were drinking yellow Gatorade, but it didn't matter. Bill Belichick left the field completely dry with one tick left on the clock, leaving Giants head coach Tom Coughlin to get drenched with a transparent libation, which was also a 3-to-1 shot.

Much like the Patriots, the favorite – orange liquid at 2-to-1 – went down in a surprising defeat.

Despite a lengthy anthem, the "public" wins Super Bowl XLII is republished from
Gary Trask
Gary is an expert on all things gambling. The Boston native has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years, including a few at Casino City and was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's Media Committee.

No Limit Hold'em tournaments are a favorite of Gary's, but he also enjoys a night of dealer's choice with a variety of games like Seven-Card No Peek, Guts or Five-Card Draw with a qualifier. In addition to playing cards, another of Gary's interests is golf, a game that allows his two favorite hobbies to collide quite naturally.

Gary Trask Websites:!/casinocityGT