The final numbers are in, and Nevada’s sports books managed to weather the storm and just barely come out on top for the 2018 Super Bowl.
Overall, books in Nevada took in a record $158.6 million in betting on the game, in which the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33. According to figures by Gaming Control Board Analyst Mike Lawton, the bookmakers took an overall profit of $1,170,432.
That made for a profit margin of just 0.7 percent, the smallest victory for the sports books in a decade. However, it’s better than it looked immediately after the game, when many believed the bookmakers had actually lost money for the first time since 2008.
The volume of betting wasn’t just a record, it shattered the previous high, which was set last year at $138.4 million.
But as the Eagles pulled off their upset, it was quickly apparent that the bookies wouldn’t be repeating last year’s jackpot, when they won $10.3 million on the 2017 Super Bowl.
Big Bets on Eagles Hurt Sports Books
The biggest issue for the sportsbooks was a series of bets on the Eagles for a million dollars or more. That meant that while the overall industry eked out a small profit, individual venues still had the potential to get crushed.
For instance, William Hill was said to have taken a multimillion-dollar loss. Station Casinos also came out behind, despite an environment that was perfect for sports betting.
“The crowd, the atmosphere, the handle were all great,” Station Casinos Vice President Art Manteris told ESPN. “But the results were disappointing.”
The variance in those huge bets meant some books ended up coming out way ahead, too.
“We had a few large wagers on the Patriots come in on the Patriots come in late that helped offset the avalanche of Eagles money we were taking early on,” said Frank Kunovic, director of specialty games for Caesars Entertainment. Caesars Palace was one of the venues that reportedly booked a seven-figure win on the Super Bowl.
High Scoring Game Led to Prop Bet Payouts
Even a small profit comes as a surprise, considering just how much went wrong for the oddsmakers during Sunday’s game. Most sportsbooks were hoping for the Patriots to win and for the game to stay under the total of 49.
Instead, the Eagles won in a high-scoring shootout, making Philadelphia the sixth underdog to win outright during the playoffs this year.
Even worse for the sports books may have been the myriad of popular prop bets that paid out for gamblers. One of the costliest ones may have occurred when Eagles quarterback Nick Foles caught a touchdown pass in the second quarter on a trick play. Foles was listed at 8/1 to score a touchdown, a wager that paid off big for some bettors.
Many prop bets on New England quarterback Tom Brady paid off, too. The game’s highest profile player paid off for gamblers by hitting the over on completions, pass attempts, passing yards, and the length of his longest run.