Super Bowl 2014: Nevada's Gaming Control Board Reveals Bettors Lost Nearly $20M

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2014

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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:

Nevada Sports Book Performance in Super Bowl
YearWagersWon/LostWin %Game Result
2014$119,400,822$19,673,96016.5%Seattle 43, Denver 8
2013$98,936,798$7,206,4607.3%Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31
2012$93,899,840$5,064,4705.4%N.Y. Giants 21, New England 17
2011$87,491,098$724,1760.8%Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25
2010$82,726,367$6,857,1018.3%New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17
2009$81,514,748$6,678,0448.2%Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23
2008$92,055,833-$2,573,103-2.8%N.Y. Giants 17, New England 14
2007$93,067,358$12,930,17513.9%Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17
2006$94,534,372$8,828,4319.3%Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10
2005$90,759,236$15,430,13817.0%New England 24, Philadelphia 21
Nevada Gaming Control Board

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:

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:

Super Bowl XLIX Odds
Seattle Seahawks5-1
San Francisco 49ers7-1
Denver Broncos10-1
New England Patriots12-1
Green Bay Packers14-1
Carolina Panthers20-1
Indianapolis Colts20-1
New Orleans Saints20-1
Chicago Bears25-1
Atlanta Falcons25-1
Philadelphia Eagles25-1
Kansas City Chiefs25-1
Cincinnati Bengals28-1
Arizona Cardinals33-1
Dallas Cowboys33-1
Detroit Lions33-1
New York Giants33-1
Pittsburgh Steelers33-1
San Diego Chargers33-1
Houston Texans33-1
Baltimore Ravens40-1
St. Louis Rams40-1
Washington Redskins50-1
Miami Dolphins50-1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers50-1
New York Jets66-1
Tennessee Titans66-1
Cleveland Browns66-1
Buffalo Bills75-1
Minnesota Vikings75-1
Oakland Raiders100-1
Jacksonville Jaguars100-1

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.


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