Giants winning outright costs sports books record $2.6M

Updated: February 5, 2008, 9:34 PM ET
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada sports books lost a record $2.6 million on Super Bowl bets when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots 17-14, gambling regulators said Tuesday.

A flood of small bets came in on the Giants, who were 12-point underdogs against undefeated New England, the Goliath that looked unbeatable.

"People came into Las Vegas and they wanted to root for David," said Jay Kornegay, the executive director of the Las Vegas Hilton race and sports book. "The anticipated large wagers that we expected on the Patriots just never materialized."

Kornegay said the amount wagered was weighted to the Giants by as much as 60 percent -- heavy action that caused many books to shift their opening lines from the Patriots being favored by 14 points down to 12.

Making matters worse for the casinos, many gamblers bet the Giants to win outright on the "money line" and won payouts of up to $475 for every $100 wagered.

Another large group took the Giants plus 12 points and got paid roughly even money.

Still another big segment bet a two-way parlay that the Giants would cover with the 12-point spread and that the total points scored in Sunday's game would be under 54 -- for a payoff of more than 2.5 times their bet.

"They're still cashing at this moment," Kornegay said. "The last two days, all I hear is, 'I told you so.'"

The total amount bet at Nevada's 174 sports books was $92.1 million, the third-highest amount ever, but down for the second consecutive year after a record $94.5 million was bet in 2006.

The last time the casinos lost money on the Super Bowl was in 1995, when the San Francisco 49ers blew out the San Diego Chargers, 49-26, and Nevada books lost $400,000, said Gaming Control Board analyst Frank Streshley.

Much of the "smart money," or bets from experienced handicappers, went with the Patriots, but the public favored the underdogs.

"The Giants turned out to be public darlings, and Eli Manning went from kicking him off the curb five weeks ago to the kid they'd like to see succeed," said Jimmy Vaccaro, a Las Vegas-based oddsmaker for AmericanWagering.com and host of a radio sports talk show.

Even in Las Vegas casinos, the fans backed the Giants in large numbers, he said.

"When the Giants did something good, it was about 70-30 applause as opposed to when the Patriots did something good," Vaccaro said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press