Few observers expected the Seattle Seahawks to beat the Denver Broncos so handily in Super Bowl XLVIII, but even fewer expected Seattle to come out on top by any margin. Because of that, the Las Vegas sports books had a very lucrative night on Feb. 2.
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, bettors wagered $119,400,822 on Super Bowl XLVIII. The end result for the Vegas sports books was a $19,673,960 profit, their largest over the past 10 Super Bowls.
Although a new standard was set this year, Las Vegas has actually done extremely well in terms of Super Bowl betting this decade. As seen in this table courtesy of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the Las Vegas sports books have finished in the black following nine of the past 10 championship games:
|Year||Wagers||Won/Lost||Win %||Game Result|
|2014||$119,400,822||$19,673,960||16.5%||Seattle 43, Denver 8|
|2013||$98,936,798||$7,206,460||7.3%||Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31|
|2012||$93,899,840||$5,064,470||5.4%||N.Y. Giants 21, New England 17|
|2011||$87,491,098||$724,176||0.8%||Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25|
|2010||$82,726,367||$6,857,101||8.3%||New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17|
|2009||$81,514,748||$6,678,044||8.2%||Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23|
|2008||$92,055,833||-$2,573,103||-2.8%||N.Y. Giants 17, New England 14|
|2007||$93,067,358||$12,930,175||13.9%||Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17|
|2006||$94,534,372||$8,828,431||9.3%||Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10|
|2005||$90,759,236||$15,430,138||17.0%||New England 24, Philadelphia 21|
Nevada Gaming Control Board
Who did you pick to win Super Bowl XLVIII?
With that in mind, perhaps gamblers should have been wary about putting faith in the Broncos this year. Denver boasted the top scoring offense in NFL history; however, Peyton Manning's team found the end zone just one time against the Seahawks' vaunted defense in a 43-8 rout.
Much to the chagrin of most gamblers, the game was essentially over following Percy Harvin's kick return touchdown to open the second half, as the underdog Seahawks never looked back. Some might even argue the game was over before it really started due to a Seattle safety 12 seconds into the game stemming from center Manny Ramirez's errant snap.
Denver was never able to get anything going after the early miscue, which Manning attributed to crowd noise, per CBS4 in Denver:
We were using the snap count on the play and due to the noise no one could hear me. I was walking up to the line of scrimmage to sort of make a change and get us on the same page and then the ball was snapped.
According to Bill Bishop of KHOU-TV in Houston, ESPN reported two-thirds of those who bet on the result of the Super Bowl placed a wager on the Broncos winning and covering the 2.5-point spread:
Mattress Mack wasn't alone. ESPN says 2 out of 3 Vegas gamblers bet Broncos to win. A record $119.4M was bet. The house took $20M. #KHOU— The Bishop (@BillBishopKHOU) February 4, 2014
Bettors have a penchant for sticking with the favorite when it comes to gambling on the Super Bowl, but that has proven to be a losing strategy recently. The underdog has covered in seven of the past 10 Super Bowls, which is why Las Vegas has been so successful.
Perhaps that trend is something bettors will keep in mind come Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. Following Seattle's dominant performance this year, the Seahawks could very well be favored if they reach the big game once again in 2015.
Per Bovada, Seattle is an odds-on favorite to repeat at 5-1, while the Broncos are the favored team to once again come out of the AFC at 10-1:
|San Francisco 49ers||7-1|
|New England Patriots||12-1|
|Green Bay Packers||14-1|
|New Orleans Saints||20-1|
|Kansas City Chiefs||25-1|
|New York Giants||33-1|
|San Diego Chargers||33-1|
|St. Louis Rams||40-1|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||50-1|
|New York Jets||66-1|
Assuming the odds hold up over the course of the 2015 season, the roles could very well be reversed in Super Bowl XLIX should the Seahawks and Broncos meet again. That would create a conundrum for bettors since Seattle throttled Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII, but underdogs have been the smart play over the past decade.
It is often said that beating Las Vegas is an impossible endeavor, and that has essentially been proven by the betting public's lack of success when gambling on the Super Bowl.
Gamblers are going to get back on the horse again next year just like they always do, but perhaps they'll do their homework a bit more thoroughly moving forward.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter