With the Super Bowl just a few days away, Carson City sports books are crowded with fans hoping to make Sunday’s game more interesting by making a few bucks.
The betting line seems to have settled in over the past few days with the Carolina Panthers favored by 5.5-6 points over the Denver Broncos.
“We’re seeing a lot of increased traffic through the casino,” said Lee Kennedy, general manager at The Max. “They’ve had a lot of activity at the sports book.”
He said that’s not only good for the book operation but has spilled over into increased casino play as well.
“It’s a good thing,” he said.
Casino Fandango General Manager Court Cardinal said business is always strong leading to the Super Bowl but this year isn’t a lot heavier than normal.
“It’s not like crazy busy every second,” said Shalyn Lewallen, the manager on duty at the sports book at Bodines.
All three said they expect the crowds of bettors to increase as game day gets closer.
Cardinal said the Super Bowl is one of two annual sports events that draws wagers not only from their regulars but from many people who, otherwise, don’t bet sports during the year.
“You see young females, older married couples at the windows,” he said.
Cardinal said the other event that draws non-bettors is the Kentucky Derby.
The American Gaming Association estimates upward of $4.2 billion is going to be wagered on the Super Bowl this year. More than 40 percent of those who will watch the game will have a bet somewhere.
But the association points out only a small fraction of that total is going to be wagered in Nevada’s legal and licensed sports books. Sports pools in bars and taverns are common everywhere and, of course, there’s your local bookie in practically every town larger than 5,000.
The total amount wagered on the game at Nevada books has been fairly stable for a couple of years. The amount the casinos actually win — that depends on the outcome.
Last year, books won $3.26 million on a total of $116 million wagered. The New England Patriots won the game 28-24.
The year before that, the total wagered was $119.4 million but the books kept a record $19.6 million when the Seattle Seahawks pounded the Broncos, the favorite of bettors.
There have been far worse years for the books. In 2011, they won just $724,176 out of $87.5 million bet and, in 2008, they actually lost $2.57 million on nearly $100 million wagered.
Cardinal said a good share of the early betting went to the Panthers but he expects more Broncos fans to make bets as the game draws near because there are a large number of Denver fans in this area. After the 49ers and Raiders, he said Denver is the closest western Nevada has to a home team.
The AGA pointed to a new study that says two-thirds of Super Bowl viewers want to change current federal law that prohibits full-fledged sports betting except in Nevada. The study says those interviewed believe the law should allow states to regulate sports betting.
“America’s passion for football is rivaled only by its enthusiasm for sports betting,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “Fans believe regulated sports betting enhances the game experience, deepens their engagement with their favorite athletes and teams and protects the integrity of the games.”
Freeman said estimates are during the 2015 season fans bet a total of $95 billion on NFL and college football games, all but about $2 billion of it wagered illegally.