Low-scoring game a boon for casinos

LAS VEGAS -- The Super Bowl was a record-setter in Vegas.

Bettors wagered a record $81.2 million on the New
England-Carolina matchup, with Nevada sports books winning a record
$12.4 million, state gambling regulators said Wednesday.

The amount bet on Sunday's Super Bowl topped the previous mark
of $77.2 million set in 1998, when Denver beat Green Bay, according
to figures released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

"I don't think any of us anticipated that we would set a
record," said Robert Walker, oddsmaker for MGM Mirage properties
in Las Vegas. "People were in a very good mood ... and they put
their money down."

The results from 152 legal sports books in the state underscored
postgame comments from Las Vegas oddsmakers, who reported a
double-digit increase in business from a year ago.

Sports books won big when the Patriots won 32-29 on a late field
goal. Most oddsmakers had the Patriots favored by 7 points and the
game's total score at about 38 points, meaning fans could bet
whether the total score would be over or under that.

Frank Streshley, a research analyst with the state Gaming
Control Board, said he couldn't explain why the handle, or the
amount wagered, was higher than a year ago. He said casinos won
because people bet the Super Bowl would be a low-scoring game.

The 15.3 percent casino win ratio was less than the 16.3 percent
in 2001, when $67.7 million was wagered and the Baltimore Ravens
defeated the New York Giants, 34-7. Because the bet total was
lower, casinos won $11.2 million that year.

Nevada sports books took $71.6 million in wagers on the Super
Bowl a year ago, and reported winning $5.2 million, a ratio of 7.3

Casinos won just $472,033 in 1998, a ratio of 0.6 percent.