Super Bowl 50 Betting Update
February 7, 2016
By Micah Roberts
The VegasInsider.com Super Bowl 50 Betting Update will provide daily betting updates from Micah Roberts in Las Vegas on this year's NFL finale between Carolina and Denver, which is set for Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.
Update - 2.7.16 - 2:35 p.m. ET
With four hours to go until the Super Bowl kicks off, Las Vegas sports books are doing some last minute maneuvering to balance things out. Surprisingly, it's not clear cut or unified who the books need.
"We can't stop the Panthers train," said Stratosphere sports book director Ed Malinowski, who was the first to move Carolina back to -6 on Sunday morning. "We've got great two-way action on the money-line, but it's been all Panthers on the spread last night and today."
Malinowski made the move to from -5.5 to -6 Saturday and immediately got Denver money, but after a half-hour of moving Sunday Malinowski said it didn't attract anything which had him concerned. A few minutes after the conversation, Denver money came running in and pushed him back to -5.5.
MGM Resorts VP of race and sports Jay Rood is seeing different action at his 10 books across the strip.
"It's been all Broncos since yesterday -- our position has completely changed. We need the Panthers now."
Rood said the worst case scenario for them would be Denver to win and the game staying UNDER. They're currently at Panthers -5.5 and he said they're close to making a move to attract more Panthers action. Overall handle has been good as well.
"We were pacing ahead of last year through Friday and we're about even now," said Rood, who hasn't taken any seven-figure wagers yet.
It's the same story over at The Wynn.
"Right now our handle is real close to last year," said Wynn sports book director John Avello, which is a big a deal because he hasn't taken a million dollar wager wager yet, either. "I had a guy I thought might make a big play, but I don't think it's going to happen."
Avello said the Wynn's decision isn't that big anymore. Once overloaded with Panthers action, he says his decision now is only about two-hundred thousand.
Aliante sports book director Marc Nelson has seen his books' position change as he's one of two books in town at -5.
"We need the Panthers pretty good now. We took a large best yesterday ($99,000) on the Broncos at +5.5."
Nevada books set a Super Bowl handle record of $119 million two years ago. Last year the handle was $115 million.
"I'd say our handle is on par with last year, it's real close," Malinowski said.
Update - 2.5.16 - 2:50 p.m. ET
This is when the real Super Bowl fun happens for Las Vegas sports books as 75 percent of their overall wagers are expected to occur from Friday through kickoff. They’ve got a great sample size of who the public likes so far with Carolina getting the majority of the action, but with over 200,000 visitors in town for the game this weekend, the critical action that will determine what side and total they really need begins now.
The airplanes will be flying into McCarron International Airport one after another every two minutes over the next three days like a well oiled assembly line and each of those buses will be loaded with Super Bowl cash ready to fire away. It’s the perfect mix of bettors who wager only once a year, along with the serious bettor looking for the ultimate wagering experience with all the props and big crowds, and then there are the whales who are ready to throw down seven figures.
No million dollar wagers have been reported yet, but chances are that MGM Resorts and the Wynn will have a couple which will obviously swing the balance of who they'll need.
So if we estimate that only 25 percent of the wagers have been placed, does the small sample size correlate to what we’ll see over the next three days? The early action was all on Carolina and while most books have reported that things have flattened out with plenty of Denver support over the last week, William Hill’s 104 sports books in Nevada reported Thursday night that 91 percent of all their cash wagers on the spread still have come on the Panthers.
MGM Resorts are still in a position to be needing Denver after getting early Carolina money like everyone else, but since moving Carolina to -5.5 -115 on Tuesday, sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback says betting patterns have changed.
“Things really started to get busy last night (Thursday) and at our current number we’ve got a little more than 3-to-2 action on the Broncos (cash taken in), and the ticket counts have been almost dead even. The next 10 tickets we write on Denver will make us exactly 50-50 since moving the number.”
There’s also been a move on the total from 45 down to 44.5 at MGM books, the Wynn and CG Technology. Stoneback said they took a six-figure wager on the UNDER Wednesday night forcing the move. As of Friday morning, the best case scenario for MGM is a combination of Denver covering and the game going OVER.
The best underdog money-line in town is at the MGM books at -240/+200, which is equivalent to a normal 5-point spread for a home team during the regular season. But with most of the money-line action coming on Denver, other books have been dropping the number lower and lower getting closer to what we normally see in the Super Bowl where the number is far less than what the spread suggests it should be. CG Technology and the South Point are both at -210/+180, which is an advantageous price for laying a 5.5-point favorite. As that 85 percent more of action is expected over the next three days, you can expect the Panthers price to drop even more as risk builds with the public as they always take the dog price -- whatever it is. If looking to play the Panthers, play the money-line and wait for -200 or lower instead of laying the inflated point spread. That’s just my opinion on getting the best of the value.
Props handle massive at Westgate
Jay Kornegay at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook says with the action he’s taken so far on Super Bowl proposition wagering that he expects 60 percent of his overall Super Bowl handle to come on them this year, which is a huge jump from last season. The Westgate has been steady at about 50 percent over the past few years. Most other Las Vegas books are in the 35-to-40 percent range. The benefit of the props for the books is that they don’t get stuck to the day if their worst case scenario occurs in the game, like Carolina to OVER would be on Sunday. They can absorb the worst decision much better than was the case just a decade ago.
Atlantis Reno back up to -6
After being at -6 for eight days, on Thursday Atlantis Reno dropped down to -5.5. But then on Friday morning they made the move back to -6 making them the only book in the state as high. Everyone is -5.5 in Las Vegas except for the Treasure Island
Who is Billy Walters playing?
Sharp money means very little in the overall Super Bowl wagering pool because there’s just so many small wagers that can do more damage collectively, but you always like to know who the most publicized and successful sharp bettor in Las Vegas is taking. Word on the street is that it was Walters and his many associates that were scrambling at all the books to get as much +6 Broncos action as they could around town. If it were a regular season game the line would be -4.5 already with him on board, but the public’s money dictates the pace for this game. A few books were relieved that money came when it did because going to -6.5 was likely to happen within the next day or two.
New Bet Shop on the Strip
William Hill has opened its 105th book in Nevada Friday at the Casino Royale -- across from the street from the Mirage -- which will be its first book on the strip since the Riviera shut down last year. This gives all the visitors in town another option on the strip besides Caesars, MGM and CG Technology lines, and it’s a great option because they deal probably one of the fairest odds (low theoretic future hold percentages, and 20 cent splits on props) in town along with the Westgate SuperBook and South Point. Even before the new book, the Casino Royale was always one of my favorite places on the strip just because of $1 Michelob’s, which is about $7 less than their competition‘s domestic beers. The property certainly isn’t as glamorous as its neighbors, but the price is always right. Who knew Michelob, my dad’s beer, was still being made?
Update - 2.4.16 - 2:50 p.m. ET
Where have all the 6's gone?
Once a prominently featured number throughout half the sports books in Las Vegas, the Super Bowl line is now unified at every bet shop in town with Carolina -5.5 as of Thursday afternoon.
The majority of the books are still long of the Panthers, but they know they can get money at +6 if needed later, and they also know that the number was way too high to begin with.
"We started seeing everyone go to -5.5 yesterday, but we weren't ready to go," said Golden Nugget sports book director Tony Miller. "I told our crew to hold the number and let me know when someone wanted a large wager, and sure enough a guy came in a few minutes later and asked us how much we'd take with Denver at +6. We took a larger than normal wager and moved, but we're still way long on Carolina."
The guy that made the wager was a known wise guy in desperation mode knowing that he almost snoozed too long waiting for Denver +6.5, and knew the well was running dry in town at +6.
William Hill books made their move to -5.5 about an hour earlier than the Golden Nugget.
"We're still buried on the Panthers, but when we were at +6, we did get a little higher on the Broncos," said William Hill's top bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich. "Still, we're at about an 8-to-1 ratio with cash wagered on the Panthers."
On Monday, William Hill books had 91 percent of its spread wagers on the Panthers.
Bogdanovich said their stance on the game was to stay with the market for now. One of the aces up their sleeve in regards to risk is having a futures pool to fall back on if they never get another dollar on Denver.
"We didn't have hardly anyone bet the Panthers to win the Super Bowl all season long, so we do very well with them."
CG Technology sports books, which are located inside the Venetian, Palazzo, Cosmopolitan and Tropicana along the strip, have never been as high as -6, but they did drop to -5 on two separate occasions this week.
"We took a six-figure wager from one of the casino players taking Denver +5.5," said CG's VP of risk management Jason Simbal, who moved back to -5.5 on Thursday. "We were extremely high with Panthers action through Tuesday with 86 percent of our overall (point-spread) cash taken in on them, but that number dropped to 59 percent through Wednesday and now we're at 56 percent."
The betting patterns seem to be the same story everywhere.
"Smaller money is taking the Panthers while the larger bets are mostly on Denver," Simbal said.
The money-line has also been dropping with the best price on Denver being +200 at MGM Resorts' books. The high mark was last week at the South Point at +215 -- it was quickly gobbled up. The best price on the Panthers is -210 at the Stratosphere and South Point.
The total is sitting at 45 at every book with the exception of MGM's 10 books across the strip -- two in Reno, also -- which dropped down to 44.5 Wednesday.
The overall Super Bowl betting story from Las Vegas is just starting to get interesting. Where's the number going to fall? Will the books ever be in a position to need the Panthers? We'll keep you updated daily all the way to kickoff.
Update - 2.3.16 - 4:00 p.m. ET
South Point sports book director Bert Osborne is feeling good about his books’ position so far with just four more nights of Super Bowl betting action to go before Denver and Carolina finally kickoff. He moved the Panthers from -5.5 to -6 last Thursday and likes the two-way action he’s been seeing at the number.
“We’re pretty much even at -6 and they’re (sharp Broncos money) starting to take +6 now because they know this is likely to be the best number they’re going to get. We’re kind of in a comfort zone right now where we’re not buried to one outcome like it started out. I‘d be happy to just grind out a win and not extend ourselves too far any way.”
That worst case scenario for the first eight days of Super Bowl action at the South Point was Carolina to cover and go OVER the total, but it‘s shifted dramatically.
“The best case scenario for us when factoring in straight bets on the sides, with both the spread and money-line, totals, teasers and parlays is Denver to win and go OVER,” said Osborne. “The Denver to UNDER risk is almost the same right now as Carolina to OVER.”
Osborne dropped the total from 46 down to 45.5 on Wednesday morning and then down to 45 a few hours later.
“I dropped the total down to 45 just because we’ve been getting mostly UNDER action, but the final factor in moving was the parlay correlation of Denver to UNDER which has really climbed over the past two days. But I’m sure I’ll be back at 46 soon when all those flat $100 and $50 OVER bets start coming in with the weekend crowd Friday night, so I’m not too worried about the total. It‘ll balance itself out.”
Osborne said the South Point tickets counts are less than 2-to-1 in favor of the Panthers.
William Hill sports books finally made the move from to -6 on Tuesday night. As of Monday night they had reported 93 percent of all its point spread wagers made on the Panthers at -5.5 after opening -3.5. CG Technology, Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts are the only major Las Vegas sports books still at -5.5, with MGM adding a little extra juice at -5.5 -115.
Despite so many books going to -6, it’s likely that Osborne is correct that the number won’t get any higher, so if liking Denver, keep a close eye on the screen for all the books to follow what they do the next couple days. Or you can just read our report Thursday and we’ll explain all the Las Vegas happenings. The real action has yet to come.
As of 5:45 p.m. ET, the South Point dropped the Panthers down to -5.5.
Update - 2.2.16 - 3:00 p.m. ET
After a couple of quiet Super Bowl betting days in Las Vegas, Tuesday morning offered some activity where three sports books had some movement with their spread.
"We had a couple of professional come in and take the Broncos at +5.5 EVEN for $30,000 each (MGM limit for known pro bettors), one at the Bellagio and one here (Mirage), said MGM Resorts sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback. "Jay (MGM Resorts VP Rood) and I talked about where our position was at -5.5 -120 and decided to knock it down a nickel."
The action taken at +5.5 (EVEN) at MGM books with Denver was a completely different story from what they had seen the first few days of wagering last week when Carolina was an overwhelming public choice that drove their line up from the opener of -4 to -5.5 in two days.
"At -5.5 -120, we had a 3-to-2 ticket count ratio on the Panthers, but the cash was 2-to-1 in favor of the Broncos," said Stoneback.
So where will the line go from here? Stoneback offered his opinion.
"I think the trend we're seeing now with Denver support is more of what we'll see over the weekend. I could actually see this game closing -4.5."
Most people who consider themselves sharp know the spread is inflated about twice what it should be and while they're waiting for the best number possible, they also know +6 might be the ceiling.
On Tuesday morning, Boyd Gaming made the move from -6 to -5.5, a pair of numbers they've been bouncing around over the past week. Almost at the exact same time, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook took their first plunge into -6 territory after being at -5.5 since Wednesday.
"We're just heavy at -5.5 and went to -6 to see if any there was anyone willing to take +6," said SuperBook assistant manager Jeff Sherman.
The answer is likely 'Yes', there will be, but with six major books showing +6, that Denver money is waiting for a better number. "What's the hurry" is what most bettors looking to bet the Broncos might say with so many options available on a Tuesday.
There's plenty of time, but it will be up to the public where the number goes from here and we've only seen a small fraction of the overall handle that will occur. Right now the books are handicapping public perception to help themselves formulate a plan of risk at each number, while also being ready for anything on the fly such as The Wynn and MGM books who usually get at least one $1 million wager from one of their house whales.
Handicapping the public isn't always an exact science, such as in 2003 when a few books handicapped expected public and sharp Raiders (-4) action to come late against the Buccaneers. It never came and the Bucs rolled 48-21. Even then when forecasting wrong, after all the props and futures were posted Nevada books still won $5.2 million.
Update - 2.1.16 - 5:00 p.m. ET
Things have settled in Las Vegas. There hasn't been much Super Bowl line movement the last couple of days with most sports books standing as they were on Friday. Six major sports books such as Caesars Palace, South Point, Station Casinos, Stratosphere and Golden Nugget have the Panthers at -6, with the others sitting at -5.5 -- some with added juice up to -120.
The only spread movement the last two days came Monday afternoon at Boyd Gaming properties who went back to -6 after being at -5.5 for about 45 minutes.
"We're starting to see more Denver action over the weekend to the point where we went back to -5.5, but then we immediately got Panthers money and went back to -6," said Boyd Gaming sports book director Bob Scucci. "We had a ticket count ratio of about 3-to-1 on Thursday, but the overall count has dropped down to 2-to-1."
People are definitely warming up to the idea of taking points with Denver.
Over in North Las Vegas at the Aliante sports book, director Marc Nelson is still seeing Panthers action, but has noticed a betting change from the public as well.
"We're still at a 5-to-1 ratio on ticket counts and cash taken in at -5.5, but it's leveled off with more Broncos support compared to the first four days of betting," said Nelson. "We're sitting well at -5.5 for now, but it will be interesting to see what kind action occurs closer to kickoff. I see a lot of 6's out there and I know some of the sharps that want to bet Denver are just waiting to see if they can get +6.5."
Like all the casinos in town, the Aliante is having a free Super Bowl party in their Access Showroom with food and drink specials -- they always offer beers on the cheap and they're free if you bet. I've been asked by a lot friends who will be visiting this weekend where to go, and usually my answers lead me to where the best deals are.
So here's a few places I have been recommending that will help maximize your Las Vegas Super Bowl experience:
Downtown is always electric with a Mardi Gras type of atmosphere and after making your bets at the Golden Nugget, stroll across the street to the Long Bar at the 'D'.
Over at the South Point they'll have huge parties in three different locations as well as all of their huge bars. In addition to cheap beer every day -- free if you bet, they also have the best Vienna beef hot dog in town at only $1.25 -- perfect cheap snack during the game.
The Palazzo has Legasse's Stadium with a CG Technology sports book inside and the seating is just like a mini stadium -- call for reservations.
For frenzied football party action on the strip, being inside the Mirage or Mandalay Bay sports book is always a blast -- lots of stand-up room -- and big games always seem better there even if you don't have a seat.
At Caesars Palace, Gordon Ramsey's Pub and Grill is having a big bash with the celebrity chef's awesome cuisine and a large draft beer selection -- call for reservations.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook is brand spanking new with a $10 million refurbish and the screens are incredible, as are their nearly 400 different game props.
If wanting to see the best video presentation off the strip, drive up to the Red Rock sports book and watch the game on the giant HD screen, as well as getting cheap Bud Light's -- free if you bet.
You really can't go wrong anywhere in town. There's no place like Las Vegas for a big game.
Update - 1.30.16 - 9:05 p.m. ET
Wynn sports book director John Avello said earlier in the week that he was looking for a sign that Broncos money was out there and when he moved the Panthers from -5.5 to -6 on Friday, he got that sign with a Denver wager he described as a high six-figure wager. The wager pushed the Wynn book back to -5.5 on Saturday afternoon.
"There's still a long ways to go -- we'll take 80 percent of overall wagers on the game Saturday and Sunday, " said Avello. "We're still long on the Panthers right now, but it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to see our position completely change from the first week. It happened last year."
The public is still loving the Panthers, but the frenzied pace seen when the number was first posted has leveled off. Like Avello said, there is a long ways to go and things could change drastically. It's apparent that some large money is willing to show their hand with Denver and +6 is acceptable. Other sharp outfits are still hoping +6.5 or +7 shows.
A solid indicator that Broncos money is still out there waiting is the action the South Point took on the Broncos money-line that dropped them from +215 to +180 (Panthers now -125). At the time, +215 was the highest price available in Las Vegas. Several books still have the Broncos at +200.
If looking to play the Broncos, it's quite possible that +6 may be the best number you'll find. We'll keep following this story all the way till kickoff.
Update - 1.29.16 - 5:15 p.m. ET
Las Vegas is still one week away before they'll see the bulk of all its Super Bowl action -- 80 percent expected from next Friday night through gameday, but the small sampling of wagers being made already is a great indicator of what those final few days of wagers will have in store.
Yes, it's all Panthers and will probably continue to be, but can it continue at a 94 percent clip? That's the cash ratio William Hill's 104 sports books across Nevada have seen on the game so far through Friday. That's a ratio like we'd see if the Patriots were laying only -2.5 at home against the Jaguars. The actual ticket count at William Hill is 85 percent on the Panthers.
In most Super Bowls, the favorite gets bet with the spread and the underdog is bet heavily on the money-line. So far, William Hill has seen 62 percent of the wagers on the Broncos at +190, but 97 percent of the actual cash has been on the Panthers (-220) with $623,142 coming on one Panthers bet at -190 on Monday.
With those type of slanted numbers, it's curious to see William Hill books so low from a comparative standpoint around Las Vegas, but it's a long way to go and they've only seen a fraction of what's about to come.
The consensus money-line price of Panthers -240 on Thursday was very comparable to a standard price we'd see at most spreads at -5.5 during the regular season, which is odd because the Super Bowl money-line price on the dog is always lower to protect against the masses who usually play the dog to win outright -- they've been correct the past few years.
Station Casinos, who sit at -6, have the Panthers -220/+180. MGM Resorts, who moved to -5.5 to -5.5 -120 on Thursday, have it -240/+200. The South Point is at -6 and have a money-line at -240/+215.
"We're even with action on the Denver money-line since going to +215," said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne who is dealing the best Broncos money-line price in town. "We're also a little high on the Panthers since we went to -6."
That's a lot different report we've been getting from the South Point and Osborne all week where it was all Panthers action similar to what William Hill has seen.
While it may seem hard to believe that the Panthers party train at the bet windows may slow everywhere throughout town, historically, it's not unusual to see momentum slowed during the second week before kickoff as sentiment for the other team begins to show.
People remember what they saw last, which was Carolina in a 49-15 wipe out of Arizona while Denver struggled 20-18 at home against the Patriots, but a week later they start to find any kind of small reason to support the underdog. The main reason is usually because the dog winning outright pays more than the favorite on the point-line or money-line.
We'll have the media with all its mega-coverage next week. The Broncos defense will be a major story, as will Peyton Manning possibly playing in his last game. For the 55-year old lady visiting Las Vegas from Iowa City, who never wagers, she's bound to throw $10 on a nice young man like Manning.
Update - 1.28.16 - 3:25 p.m. ET
The Atlantis Reno was the first Nevada sports book to move Carolina from a 5.5-point favorite to -6 on Thursday morning and two other prominent Las Vegas bet shops followed suit a few hours later.
“We had to make the move (to -6), it’s been all Panthers action at any number we’ve had it at,” said Stratosphere sports book director Ed Malinowski. “I’d like to be able to see if +6 is a number we can get some buy back, but we’ve been at the number for an hour and haven’t had any takers. Maybe that number is +6.5.”
Whenever a desired number is sought by sharp money, they don’t a miss a move like this and within 10 minutes they‘re at the windows to get some.
The South Point also made the move to -6, as book director Bert Osborne said he might yesterday. At 11:53 a.m. PT, Station Books also went to -6.
Other places are contemplating when to make the move themselves as they sit at -5.5, like the CG Technology where VP of risk management Jason Simbal says “it’s all Panthers with 89 percent of the cash taken on the Panthers.”
Over at the Wynn sports book, they just made the move from -5 to -5.5 this morning, but it’s the same betting story with them too.
“It’s been all one-sided with Carolina, so let’s see if they’ll lay -5.5 too,” said Wynn sports book director John Avello. “I’m not ready to take a stance on any number until I can find someone willing to take Denver. That number may be +6, but I won’t be too quick to get off 5.5 for the time being.“
The Wynn usually takes a $1 million bet at least once during each Super Bowl, but Avello said the largest bet he's taken so far was on Carolina in the high five-figures.
When the point-spread moves, the money-line has to be adjusted with it. The South Point is now giving Denver at a city best of +210 (Bet $100 to win $210) with Carolina set at -235 (Bet $100 to win $42), which is the most fantastic money-line split in town and a typical Super Bowl friendly gift the South Point usually gives its bettors.
The total consensus around town is 45.5 with the Westgate and MGM Resorts at a low of 45 and the South Point and Stations at a high of 46.
The other big news of Thursday besides a few books testing -6 is that the Westgate opens their famous Super Bowl propositions at 7:00 p.m. PT. A few books in town have some of the traditional point-spread props posted -- Stations has five pages of props up -- but everyone looks for the Westgate props to help set the market.
Within a few days, scalps around town will be finished and most of the numbers will look the same.
Update - 1.27.16 - 2:25 p.m. ET
Add Caesars Palace, Station Casinos and the Stratosphere to the growing list of Las Vegas sports books that have Carolina -5.5 over the Broncos for next week’s Super Bowl. They took the plunge Wednesday morning. MGM Resorts and the South Point made their move on Tuesday.
“I’m legitimately at Carolina -5.5 and I may be going to -6 soon,” South Point sports book director Bert Osborne said, who opened Carolina -4 on Sunday night. “We’re getting lots of action on the Panthers at -5.5.“
Osborne also said his teaser liability with Carolina-to-OVER was growing by the minute. He has the Panthers money line at -215 with the Broncos at +190, which is the most attractive dog number in the city as of Wednesday afternoon. His total has been steady at 45.5 the past two days after being at 46.5 on Monday.
Over at the MGM Resorts sports book hub inside the Mirage, manager Jeff Stoneback said he and VP Jay Rood were just having a discussion about when they were going to make the move off -5.5, a dead number, and go to -6.
“Our ticket count at just -5.5 alone has the Panthers at a 4-to-1 ratio and the cash taken in is at 2-to-1,“ said Stoneback, who then answered a call from one of his other nine sports books across the strip. A big bet wager was being accepted. “We just took a six-figure bet on Denver at +5.5, so the cash ratio is far more slanted on Denver at 5.5 than what I had just said, maybe at 15-to-1 on Denver now.”
However, Stoneback kept the game at 5.5 for one big reason. “Last night we took a six-figure bet on the Panthers at -5.”
Those are the two biggest wagers the MGM books have taken so far.
In a few days that cash differential at 5.5 will probably be slanted back towards the Panthers, but at least Stoneback has found out that there is Denver money out there and that they are willing to take +5.5.
Professional bettor Jeff Whitelaw says he made the game Carolina -4 and 43, and is betting accordingly with those numbers being his basis on making wagers, not just the game side and total, but also the props when they start coming out.
“I took +5.5 when the number first opened thinking I got the best of it and I also took the UNDER,” said Whitelaw who used to be a bookmaker two decades ago with Jimmy Vaccaro at the Barbary Coast. “If I win one of those bets, I should win the other. It’s a good correlation.”
Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White made Carolina -1 after adjusting all his ratings following the championship games.
So you have two extremely sharp NFL number guys saying -5.5 is inflated, but also saying there is no real reason to bet Denver now because you can let the public drive the number. People still love the Panthers early on. The big question for the books is if that same public sentiment will continue into next week.
Update - 1.26.16 - 12:45 p.m. ET
The easy part for Las Vegas sports books was posting a Super Bowl number on Sunday night. But the tough roll-up-your-sleeves type of work starts on Tuesday and continues through Thursday as the books start making numbers on just about everything offered in a box score.
It's Super Bowl prop time and to get some insight on what kind of timeline were looking at before wagering starts, we talked with Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook assistant manager Jeff Sherman as he was on his way to Manager Ed Salmons' house for what is expected to be an all day affair of cramming through data to compile what has becomes the world's most famous Super Bowl propositions.
"We'll work about 10 hours today and probably another eight hours tomorrow," said Sherman, who has been doing this prop routine with Salmons and VP Jay Kornegay for nearly two decades dating back to their days together at the Imperial Palace. Supervisor Randy Blum has also been included in the meeting of prop minds for the past few Super Bowls.
"We've been setting up our template's in the system and preparing sheets for the last couple of days. The only thing we need to add is players names and the actual odds. After reviewing everything Thursday, we should have about 350 props opened for wagering at 7 pm PT."
Sheets will be available Friday and prop wagering on the Westgate's new phone app will be turned on Saturday -- they want the sharp early action coming through the bet windows first. If in Nevada, no account is necessary to download the Westgate's app. It's a nice tool to have for the next week just to compare real time prop prices at other books.
This Westgate crew deserves a lot of credit for what has happened in the Super Bowl prop world here in Las Vegas. They took things to a new level and forced the competition to catch up. First it was 20 props, then 50, 100, 200 and 300 -- higher and higher each year. They were one of the first crews in the city to use box scores from other sports to make a Super Bowl prop. They thought outside of the box and others followed -- some books even stole their sheets and used the same bet numbers and pasted their own logo on it and passed it off as their own.
Jay Kornegay says that 50 percent of their Super Bowl handle comes from props. No other book in town has that kind of equal action, but they're all catching up as the prop wagers have become so popular with fringe once-a-year type of bettors. The beauty about the props is that the books get another outlet for making money and aren't at the risk they used to be in if the worst side and total decision comes in on the Super Bowl. They also get tons of free national publicity.
We'll have all 350 props posted on Friday afternoon.
What's going on with the number?
It's been all Carolina money from the masses so far and Boyd Gaming has the highest number in town with the Panthers at -5.5. Everyone else is at -4.5 or -5. The total is steady at 45.5 at most places with Stations being the highest at 46. The lowest money-line price on Carolina is -200 at several books with Aliante being the highest at -220 with a take back of +190 on Denver, which is the best dog price in towm. William Hill sports books' head oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich said they took a $623,000 wager (wins $327,894) on the Panthers money-line at -190 and moved to -200 (+175 take back on Denver).
Update - 1.26.16 - 12:05 a.m. ET
While I love the idea that ESPN’s First Take is talking Las Vegas Super Bowl numbers, I thought analyst Skip Bayless did an awful job of disseminating the actual betting information when reporting that lots of big Denver money came in to drop the number.
Yes, early Denver money did come in at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook Sunday night when they posted +5.5, but with such small early limits and a market not set yet, they weren't married to the number and got in line with other books.
The real story in Las Vegas is that everyone is betting the Panthers as if they’ve seen the final score already. William Hill's 104 sports books across Nevada has seen 90 percent of its tickets Super Bowl tickets on the Panthers (-4) and 86 percent of actual cash wagered on them as well. It’s the same story all across town.
Okay, so it’s early and everyone has the Panthers 49-15 win over the Cardinals fresh in their minds. Arizona was a team many thought was truly super and destined for a title, including myself, and the Panthers beat them down like they were a nobody such as the Tennessee Titans. They also slapped the Seattle Seahawks around the week before, a team most oddsmakers had rated as the tops in the league.
However, after a week or so of thinking about things, bettors may start to soften on the Broncos and its No. 1 ranked defense. Defense is supposed to win championships and Denver’s has carried them all season and now play in the big game. Sure, quarterback Peyton Manning isn’t allowed to throw more than 30 yards downfield -- he can’t physically do it anymore, but if he can refrain from turning the ball over like early in the season they can stay in this game.
The bettors who like Denver are waiting on the sidelines with their wads of cash waiting to see how many points they can get. Why take the high number of +5 at Stations or MGM right now when the Panthers risk is only going to get higher. Knowing that 5 and 5.5 are dead numbers, large money waiting for Denver knows they can wait things out for 13 days and possibly get +6. There's no edge or reason to bet Denver now.
Limits will be raised higher over the next week at most books, but when the straight action and parlay money starts creating lopsided risk on Carolina the books will be forced to move. Sharps know this and the books know this and it will be like a staring contest to see who blinks first.
Stay tuned, we’ll have more updates daily as stuff happens in Las Vegas.
Update - 1.25.16 - 12:05 a.m. ET
Most Las Vegas sports books opened the Carolina Panthers as 4-point favorites over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, a number that was elevated to extreme measures based on power ratings.
"We opened Carolina -5.5," said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay, "but early Denver action dropped the number."
The Westgate settled at Carolina -4 after all the early wagers with a total at 45. Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White had Denver 1-point better on a neutral field than Carolina before Sunday’s games.
When the Panthers demolished the Cardinals, 49-15, the public was all in with Carolina with early wagers.
"We wanted to be high with our number knowing the public would take Carolina," said MGM Resorts sports books VP Jay Rood who opened -4.5. "So far we’re at a 6-to-1 ratio on tickets bet with the Panthers and we’re at a 4-to-1 ratio with cash taken in."
The good news for the sports books is that the game isn’t a ‘3’ which means they have lots of wiggle room to maneuver.
The bad news is that they know the majority public wagers will be on Carolina and its possible that if the wagers become too one-sided that from the public that it could rise to -6 passing the dead numbers of -5 and -5.5.
However, sharps showed that they liked Denver at +5.5 at the Westgate. But remember that "sharp money" pales in comparison to the overall handle is wagered in the Super Bowl.
We’ll be updating everything that happens in Las Vegas regarding the Super Bowl spread, so be sure to check us out. Props are expected to open this Friday (1/29/16).
Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 12 years.
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