Super Bowl Sunday at the sportsbook often looks like this: Frenzied betting starts in the morning and continues up to the 3:25 p.m. kickoff. Experienced bettors lay down their greenbacks, knowing who is injured and who is favored. Novices scratch their heads over the spreads and propositions, some even over the basics of football.
This is the game that attracts old-timers and newbies. It's the culmination of a season for the avid fan. For those who aren't so obsessed, it's a social event highlighted by commercials. It's all about fans who have an opinion who then spice up the game by putting money on the line, said one local sportsbook manager. And that's what makes this the most profitable day of the year for sportsbooks. Nevada sportsbooks collected a record $94.5 million from last year's game.
"The thing about the Super Bowl is, it brings out people who never bet on anything, making it the highest-grossing vetted game in the U.S. - that's legal," said Steve Napoletano, sportsbook supervisor for Leroy's Race & Sportsbook in the Carson Nugget. "We take more Super Bowl bets than anything else."
Using sports knowledge and luck, a gambler can walk out with a heavy wallet. Or not.
Louie Sanchez, of Carson City, has bet on Super Bowls since Joe Namath won Most Valuable Player in 1969, that was Super Bowl III. The game takes on a greater meaning when you have money on it, he said.
The most the 57-year-old has ever won on a game was $420, which may still be a comfort when he thinks about how much he's bet and lost.
Sanchez made his picks this week at the Cal Neva Sports Book inside the Carson Station with his friend Freddie Melendez, a warehouse manager from Carson City. They eyed the special "in-house" props, which are bets specific to the Cal Neva sports books. Sometimes the props can get a little odd.
This week, the Cal Neva pulled its bets that included members of the Wolf Pack basketball team. University of Nevada, Reno officials said the wagers violated an NCAA rule that prohibits the use of student athletes to promote a business.
That's unfortunate for Sanchez and Melendez, who believed they could win money favoring a star on the 15th-ranked Wolf Pack over the Super Bowl.
The special prop: Kyle Shiloh, a Pack guard, total assists during the Saturday game against Hawaii vs. the total number of field goals made in the Super Bowl.
They'll have other options, such as: total goals scored at this morning's Manchester United soccer game vs. the Bears' total touchdowns.
Vince Carter's total points scored today during the Hawks and Nets game vs. Colts-Bears total points in the first half.
To grab a greater share of gamblers, sportsbooks offer these creative props for basketball, golf, soccer, NASCAR and hockey fans.
"It's crazy," said old-time sports bettor Allen "Ozzie" Osborn, 77, who then laughed at the unusual props.
He'll place a bet on Sunday, probably for the Colts (who are favored) after watching the newspaper for the injury report. It's not his favorite game on which to bet. The most he's ever won is $1,000. It can be difficult to pick between the two best teams in the league.
Osborn, who divides his time between home and the casino, said he'll probably watch his pick from home.
"It can get nuts here," he said.
There's an even stranger bet at Casino Fandango, but it's for those who have the patience.
At Fandango's sports book, fans can place a bet on whether the highest-scoring game will be in 2007 or 2008.
"It doesn't matter which side you bet on, you'll have to wait a year to find out," said Jason Kolenut, Casino Fandango race and sport book supervisor.
Just don't lose your winning ticket.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
Betting on the point spread: The number oddsmakers come up with that favors one team over another. Earlier this week, oddsmakers favored the Colts by about seven points. So, a bettor can pick the Colts and win the wager if they win by more than seven points.
If the Colts win by exactly seven, this is called a push, and everyone who made that wager gets their money refunded. Just because your favored team wins, that doesn't mean you win the wager. If the team didn't cover the spread, you still lose.
Oddsmakers considered a bet on the Bears as a greater risk, so every $10 would yield $20.
Betting on the total points: Oddsmakers pick the total points scored for the entire game. Gamblers wager whether it'll be over that number or under.
Source: Jason Kolenut, Casino Fandango.