Perry's 1986 TD spawned Super Bowl betting frenzy in Las Vegas

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Customers at the Club Cal Neva sportsbook at the Gold Dust West Casino examine some proposition bets for today's Patriots/Giants Superbowl.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Customers at the Club Cal Neva sportsbook at the Gold Dust West Casino examine some proposition bets for today's Patriots/Giants Superbowl.

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LAS VEGAS - William "The Refrigerator" Perry's goal-line rumble into the endzone in Super Bowl XX won hundreds of thousands of dollars for Las Vegas gamblers in 1986, and spawned a new form of betting on the Big Game: the outrageous proposition bet.

The unlikely third-quarter score from the Chicago Bears defensive lineman in the 46-10 rout of the Patriots put oddsmakers in their place.

The line opened at 20-1 against him, but fell to 2-1 as the money poured in on the Fridge.

"We got killed on it," recalls Art Manteris, then the manager of the sports book at Caesars Palace, and now vice president at Station Casinos Inc. "But it got so much media attention it was incredible."

"That really put Super Bowl proposition wagering on the map," he said.

This year, Nevada bookmakers are hoping for a record $100 million handle on the biggest sports betting event of the year, and have set up hundreds of similar side bets which are expected to account for 10 to 30 percent of the total amount wagered.

"I'll bet the coin toss," said Cleveland resident Pete Giantoni, who walked through the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino with a Patriots cap on. "It's a 10-second bet and you know if you win or not. You don't even have to watch the whole game."

As Super Bowl bettors trickled into Las Vegas on Thursday ahead of the big weekend, oddsmakers refined their most outlandish lines.

Station Casinos was taking bets on who would perform better: Giants quarterback Eli Manning this year, or his older brother Peyton in last year's Super Bowl. Peyton was favored by 15 passing yards and four receptions. But the early money was on Eli.

The Las Vegas Hilton was taking bets on the jersey number of the first player to score: over or under 43.5.

And on which will be greater: Amani Toomer's receiving yards, or Tiger Woods' fourth-round golf score in the Dubai Desert Classic. Woods is a 15.5 point favorite.

Caesars Palace would pay out to the people who could pick the winner of both the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500 two weeks later. The Patriots and Jimmie Johnson were the favorites at odds of 7-2 against.

The array of options guaranteed that even if a play ends in a red flag, a yellow flag or a time-out, someone, somewhere had action on it.

"Almost every play means something to the betting public," said Chuck Esposito, the assistant vice president of race and sports book operations at Caesars Palace. "That's how big this game has become."

Michael McCann, a 47-year-old oil refinery operator from Ventura County, Calif., arrived Thursday morning and had put $100 on the game and was drinking a rum and Coke by 1 p.m.

On one $25 bet, he needed more than six total touchdowns, more than two lost fumbles, less than six receptions by the Patriots' Randy Moss and less than 24 first downs by New England to win $275.

"That's so far. It's a long ways till Sunday," he said, sitting in the Planet Hollywood sports book.

Mitch Leitz, a 47-year-old Internet entrepreneur from Atlantic City, N.J., was taking in his 24th Super Bowl in Las Vegas at the Caesars Palace sports book. Leitz had already bet $210 on the first quarter, hoping the Patriots would lead by three and the total score would exceed 10.5. Between the craps table and the sports book, he expected to wager thousands by Sunday, and probably leave some behind.

"You know you're going to lose," Leitz said. But friend Scott Cutlip, 37, chimed in. "We're going to have fun doing it."


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