Public vs. Bookies: Who Came Out on Top in Super Bowl XLVIII?

Jason Lake

Monday, February 3, 2014 12:50 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 12:50 PM UTC

The Seattle Seahawks made a little bit of money for the online sportsbooks on the Super Bowl point spread. But did one single play on the football field turn things around on the balance sheets?

Jason’s final record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14:

49-41-2 ATS (+7.7 units)

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

16-20-1 Totals (–5.6 units)

Total units won: +2.81

ROI: +2.15%

Well folks, it’s been another profitable season of NFL betting for us – although not quite as profitable as the 2012 season, when we raked in a 13.19% ROI. Totals were a pain this year, including at Super Bowl XLVIII, where the Seattle Seahawks scored that one extra touchdown on the Denver Broncos to make the final score 43-8 (OVER 47). Oh well. Can’t win ‘em all. I’ll take my Seahawks victory as 1.5-point underdogs, thank you kindly. 

Money Money Money 

But enough about me. Who won the larger “battle” out there between the public and the bookies? It’s not a real battle, of course, but at every Super Bowl (and every game in every sport), there’s a positive cash flow in one direction or the other, barring a push. And in this case, the sportsbooks came out slightly ahead according to our expanded beta consensus numbers

I had thought it would be a bigger windfall for the books. However, as we got closer to kick-off, more and more money came in on the Seahawks. Big money. The Broncos still had nearly 60 percent consensus when all was said and done, but so many big bets came in on Seattle that just 51.2 percent of the money was on Denver’s side by kick-off. Still a good day for the books.

Or Was It? 

Of course, there’s more to life than the Super Bowl point spread. Our reports don’t show the full numbers for the total, but 53 percent of bettors were on the UNDER for this contest, so that’s another positive sign for the books. This turned into one of those rare public UNDERs, driven by fears of a Snowpocalypse at the New Meadowlands that never materialized. Renée Fleming didn’t even need to wear gloves (+250), and of course, Flea went shirtless (EVEN).

But it’s those Super Bowl props that may have done in certain online sportsbooks this year. Not the entertainment ones so much, since they’re generally capped at $50 or so, and none of them had particularly long odds that I know about. No, I’m talking about that most infamous of props, the Super Bowl safety.

The +4000 Safety Dance 

Super Bowl props have been huge business for sportsbooks, and increasingly so over the past decade. The NFL betting public tends to wager on unlikely outcomes happening, because it’s kind of neat when they do. And the likelihood of a safety happening in any game is pretty small, certainly smaller than the +550 odds that were widely available on Sunday (NO was priced at –900). 

But that’s not even the real killer for the books. If you’re one of the lucky few who rolled the dice on a Seahawks safety being the first score of the game, drinks are on you, because you got paid out at +4000 at Bovada and elsewhere. It wasn’t just the first score – it happened on the very first play of the game after kick-off, when Peyton Manning moved up to the line to call an audible just as center Manny Ramirez was hiking the ball. It sailed past Manning’s ear and into the end zone, where Denver RB Knowshon Moreno fell on top of it. Two points~! 

As we go to press, we don’t have the numbers on how many people made that bet at which sportsbooks. But it wouldn’t take very many to turn a slightly profitable day for the books into a Super Bowl nightmare. So ya still wanna be a bookie?
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