Each year, the Super Bowl is an international event that draws in hardcore and casual viewers alike for a variety of reasons. People might have a favorite team playing, some simply want to enjoy the commercials and others just want to see the halftime show.
However, one thing both hardcore and casual viewers are often involved in is gambling on the big game. Whether it be basic Super Bowl Squares or intricate prop bets, a lot of people like to put a few bucks on the Super Bowl.
While internet gambling has developed into a worldwide phenomenon, a significant portion of the population will place their wagers the old fashioned way: by heading down to Las Vegas over the next two weeks. Each sports book sets the line based on where the see the matchup falling and adjust as needed moving closer and closer to the game. SB Nation had a chance to chat with the man who gets that line set for MGM Resorts. Jay Rood serves as Vice President of Race & Sports and supervises a variety of race and sports books across Nevada, including Aria, MGM Grand, Mirage and the Bellagio.
Rood initially set the number at Patriots -3 1/2 with the number determined prior to last Sunday's conference championship games. Rood went through the various matchup possibilities to determine a particular spread that would be ready as soon as the NFC Championship Game was complete. Although they had a number in mind, Sunday's performances by both the Patriots and Giants influenced their decision:
"We were kind of thinking of the different matchups and what they would involve and we were thinking 4, 4 1/2 with this matchup. A few things unfolded. The Patriots didn't look as good as they had been. The Giants, once again, took care of business on the road, very business-like. There were some fours out there and there were some threes out there, so we decided to land somewhere in the middle there and see what happened. We got some decent two-way at 3 1/2, but then it started really going in favor of the Giants so we took the hook off and landed at 3, and we're currently at 2 1/2."
Rood is hoping the line settles down at 2 1/2 in part because of what a three point spread could mean. Three is sort of the magic number with this game because it invites the opportunity for a push, which would not be ideal for Rood and MGM Resorts.
In adjusting the line downward, Rood is trying to shade it towards where the money is coming in. The Giants have a solid national following and given their recent strong run, it is little surprise that people were jumping on them early at +3 1/2. Rood brought down the line with the idea of trying to split the money between the two teams over the course of the next ten days.
This year's Super Bowl features the a Patriots team that has been a favorite much of the year, while the New York Giants inconsistencies have led to a wild swing in their odds. MGM Resorts had the Patriots among the top three or four teams in their season-opening Super Bowl odds at around 5- or 6-to-1. Rood indicated their consistent winning over the course of the season kept their odds fairly low. While their offense has sputtered a bit at times, they have still gotten the job done consistently over the season.
On the other hand, the Giants were approximately 30-to-1 at MGM Resorts to open the 2011 NFL season. They actually drifted up towards 60-to-1 due to their four-game losing streak in November, but snuck back down by the time the season closed.
As Super Bowl week heats up, MGM Resorts will release the lion's share of their prop bets on Tuesday and Wednesday. For the casinos, Rood indicated they stick to mostly on-field action including things like first player/position to score, ways of scoring and even the jersey number of the player to score the last touchdown of the game. They will also mix in some cross-wagering with props involving the other sporting events taking place on Super Bowl Sunday.
MGM Resorts stays away from some of the crazier bets likely to be available online. Last year, one could wager on the length of Christina Aguilera's national anthem performance among other things. This actually led to some controversy because Aguilera came in about a second under the 1:54 time but skipped a line in the song. The folks at Sportsbook.com elected to pay out both sides of the wager due to the flub.
Issues like that make it easy for Jay Rood and MGM Resorts to stay out of the crazy prop bet business. Too many headaches can result with the possibility of error, the possibility of television coverage cutting away and the numerous rule permutations that would be needed for these kinds of prop bets. Given how popular the Super Bowl is, the casinos will get plenty of action without getting into too many crazy prop bets.