LAS VEGAS — The Super Bowl looks like a tossup in this gambling city, where more than $100 million will likely be riding on the game by kickoff.
A flurry of early money on the New England Patriots moved the game to pick ‘em at most major Las Vegas books after the Seattle Seahawks opened by as much as 2.5-point favorites.
Oddsmakers say they don’t expect the line to fluctuate much over the next few weeks, with heavy betting anticipated on both sides.
“You’re not going to see this one bounce around like you did last year,” said Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point sports book.
“Last year the whole world was in love with Denver early and there was a crush at the (betting) window. But this game is going to stay right around Seattle a 1-point favorite or pick ‘em the entire way.”
Some books opened Seattle a favorite while Tom Brady and the Patriots were still piling on points in the rain late in the third quarter of a blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts. The line quickly got knocked down, though, as money came in on New England, including a $10,000 bet at the South Point.
“All smart guys looking to take a position early,” Vaccaro said of the early money. “The line really went down quick.”
At the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, the opening line favoring the Seahawks by 2.5 points moved quickly even before the Patriots-Colts game was over. Shortly after the game was over, the line was already at pick ‘em.
“Everyone remembers what they saw last,” oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said.
The movement wasn’t quite as dramatic as it was last year, when the Seahawks were also favored by 2.5 points at most books in the opening lines only to see the betting public go so heavily on the Broncos that Denver was favored by 2.5 points at game time.
Seattle ended up winning the game 43-8 and bookmakers had a big day, winning nearly $20 million on record legal betting of $119.4 million.
The over/under for the game ranged from between 49 and 49.5 points at most books. Like point spread wagers, bettors can lay $110 to win $100 on whether the total number of points will exceed or be less than that number.
This has been a banner football betting season so far for sports books in Nevada, the only place where full legalized betting is allowed in the country.
Records have been set every month, and Sherman said he believes this year’s Super Bowl will set another betting record because the line is narrow and the teams are popular.
“I definitely think it can be a record,” he said. “You have the defending Super Bowl champs who are as public a team as anyone. And New England is the same thing, they’ve been there for years.”
For Sherman, setting the lines in the games may have been the easiest part. He and his fellow oddsmakers at the Westgate plan to spend Jan. 20-21 putting together more than 300 so-called “prop” bets on everything from which team will win the coin flip to whether one of New England’s offensive linemen will score a touchdown.
Wynn Sports Book Director Johnny Avello said he plans to offer a wide variety of props, too, which could help drive a betting record.
“I don’t see any reason why it can’t be broken,” Avello said. “The only thing that would slow it down is that people are tired of the Seahawks and I don’t think that will be the case.”
(TIM DAHLBERG, AP Sports Writer)