The most popular sport to bet on is the NFL. It is also the fastest-growing sport to bet in Las Vegas, which just says something about how popular the NFL really is. That was evidenced again this past year as the $132.5 million wagered on Super Bowl 50 at Vegas Sportsbooks was a new record, breaking the previous record of $119.4 million in Super Bowl XLVIII two years ago. The Nevada State Gaming Control Board released their Super Bowl numbers less than 24 hours after last year’s game.
While the books in Nevada won a record $19,673,960 in the 2014 Super Bowl between the Broncos and Seahawks, they only earned $3,261,066 for the 2015 Super Bowl for a 2.8 percent return. It was actually the second-lowest Super Bowl win for the bookmakers since earning just $724,176 during the 2011 Super Bowl.
But they rebounded in a big way in 2016, earning $13.3 million in profits from Super Bowl 50. They celebrated a 10.1 percent hold on the record handle. Michael Lawton, a senior analyst for the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, says the biggest factors behind the record handle for Super Bowl 50 were the new mobile apps, in-game wagering, and an improved economy.
The Broncos won outright as underdogs against the Panthers. Early money was one-sided on the Panthers as favorites, but the late action on the weekend poured in on the Broncos both on the spread and the money line once the line got up to 5.5 and 6 in most places. It settled back down between 4.5 and 5 points. The under was also a popular bet as the total dropped from 45.5 to 43, and under bettors cashed with the 24-10 final.
Perhaps another reason for the record handle was the location of the Super Bowl. Since it was played on the West Coast in Santa Clara, fans from that region had a short trip to Las Vegas to place their wagers. Fans stopped in the state’s sportsbooks to place wagers before heading to the game. The Broncos are also a West Coast team that brought in a lot of money. It also helped having a spread in the 4.5 to 5 range because it brought in a lot of moneyline action. The previous year, the Patriots vs. Seahawks game was a pick ’em, so the money-line was pretty much non-existent.
Just a few years ago, all the talk was about whether or not the books could break the $100 million mark. Well, after averaging nearly $123 million the last three years, it would be a huge disappointment if they didn’t get to $100 million in total wagers in the coming years. The hope was to get at least $120 million in 2016, and they had no problem exceeding that mark. It’s clear that sports betting is thriving like never before.
Since 1991, the amount of money being bet has jumped by over $90 million. Fans are now more than ever willing to make some extra money by placing bets on big games such as the Super Bowl. There should be no reason to believe it will decrease in the future.
Only twice since 1991 has Las Vegas actually lost money on the Super bowl. The first occasion happened in Super Bowl XXIX when the San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers by a final of 49-26. Vegas lost $396,674 that year. The second time occurred just a few years back in Super Bowl XLII when the New York Giants pulled off a huge upset over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots by a final of 17-14.
Sportsbooks dropped $2,573,103 for their biggest loss in Super Bowl history. The Giants were anywhere from an 11 to 14-point underdog in that game, and there was a lot of money coming in on the double-digit dog. Where the books really took the biggest hit was on the money line, where New York could be found anywhere from +325 to +405.
Those two years that Vegas books lost are nothing compared to the amount of money they have won over time. In fact, they have profited at least $10 million six times since 1991. Their second-biggest payout came in Super Bowl XXXIX when the New England Patriots topped the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21. The books made $15,430,138 that year as most money was bet on the Patriots (-7) against the spread. They also dodged Eagles’ money line bets as New England won by three.
The handle for the four games from 2005 to 2008 was over $90 million each year. After the stock market crash of 2008, the numbers took a dive in 2009. However, the numbers have increased the past five years due to the economic growth in North America. Las Vegas is once again thriving as The Strip has returned to life following some down years in 2009 and 2010.
Here is a list showing the total handle on each Super Bowl since 1991. I have listed the total money bet on each game, the amount sportsbooks won or lost along with the return percentage, and the final score. Parentheses () indicate a loss for that year.
Amount Bet on the Super Bowl Each Year
|2016||$ 132,545,587||$ 13,314,539||10.1%||Broncos 24, Panthers 10|
|2015||$ 115,986,086||$ 3,261,066||2.80%||Patriots 28, Seahawks 24|
|2014||$ 119,400,822||$ 19,673,960||16.50%||Seahawks 43, Broncos 8|
|2013||$ 98,936,798||$ 7,206,460||7.30%||Ravens 34, 49ers 31|
|2012||$ 93,899,840||$ 5,064,470||5.40%||Giants 21, Patriots 17|
|2011||$ 87,491,098||$ 724,176||0.83%||Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25|
|2010||$ 82,726,367||$ 6,857,101||8.29%||New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17|
|2009||$ 81,514,748||$ 6,678,044||8.19%||Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23|
|2008||$ 92,055,833||$ (2,573,103)||-2.80%||N.Y. Giants 17, New England 14|
|2007||$ 93,067,358||$ 12,930,175||13.89%||Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17|
|2006||$ 94,534,372||$ 8,828,431||9.34%||Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10|
|2005||$ 90,759,236||$ 15,430,138||17.00%||New England 24, Philadelphia 21|
|2004||$ 81,242,191||$ 12,440,698||15.31%||New England 32, Carolina 29|
|2003||$ 71,693,032||$ 5,264,963||7.34%||Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21|
|2002||$ 71,513,304||$ 2,331,607||3.26%||New England 20, St. Louis 17|
|2001||$ 67,661,425||$ 11,002,636||16.26%||Baltimore 34, New York Giants 7|
|2000||$ 71,046,751||$ 4,237,978||5.97%||St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16|
|1999||$ 75,986,520||$ 2,906,601||3.83%||Denver 34, Atlanta 19|
|1998||$ 77,253,246||$ 472,033||0.61%||Denver 31, Green Bay 24|
|1997||$ 70,853,211||$ 2,265,701||3.20%||Green Bay 35, New England 21|
|1996||$ 70,907,801||$ 7,126,145||10.05%||Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17|
|1995||$ 69,591,818||$ (396,674)||-0.57%||San Francisco 49, San Diego 26|
|1994||$ 54,483,221||$ 7,481,541||13.73%||Dallas 30, Buffalo 13|
|1993||$ 56,811,405||$ 7,174,869||12.63%||Dallas 52, Buffalo 17|
|1992||$ 50,334,277||$ 301,280||0.60%||Washington 37, Buffalo 24|
|1991||$ 40,080,409||$ 3,512,241||8.76%||New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19|