The Super Bowl Was Poo, But the Betting Was Not

The Super Bowl was shit. Don’t come at me with “the defenses were amazing to watch,” or “it was a one-score game late, so it was exciting” takes, because you would be wrong. The Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots were the second- and fourth-highest scoring teams in the league and the final score was 13-3, Patriots. I don’t need a 50-49 game, but 16 total points, including multiple missed field goals, a rag-armed QB on one side, and a deer-in-the-headlights QB on the other made for a horrible viewing experience. So now my adopted city has the arguably the assiest Super Bowl ever and an Olympic Games where a bomb exploded. Nice. Thank the good spaghetti monster above that sports betting exists, because it made an otherwise butt night tolerable.

Enough Bets to Build the Stupid Wall

It is estimated that about $6 billion was wagered on Super Bowl LIII, with only about $300 million of that coming via legal channels. A solid chunk of that legal portion was bet by a man who wishes to remain anonymous, a man ESPN.com calls “Bettor X.” According to the site, Bettor X lost at least $3.8 million on this past weekend’s Super Bowl, deciding the Rams were totally going to win it all.

MGM Resorts told ESPN that Bettor X put down $2 million on the Rams money line a few days before the game, a line set at +120. He then made the same bet, for $1.5 million this time, with William Hill, and made another Rams money-line bet at South Point Casino in Las Vegas for $300,000.

And since a money-line bet is a bet on a team to win straight-up, Bettor X lost $3.8 million. At least $3.8 million, as there may have been other bets not reported. He’s likely doing just fine, though, as he won $10 million on the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers and bet between $8 million and $10 million on the Philadelphia Eagles in last year’s Super Bowl, a game which the underdog Eagles won.

You Could Probably Have Bet on That

Of course, Bettor X is an outlier, as most people who put money on the game only risk a few bucks. And one of the most fun things about betting on the Super Bowl is the multitude of prop bets. There were well over 400 prop bets available on Sunday. I’ve shit on the NFL in the past for trying to make us believe that it doesn’t like sports betting and these sorts of prop betting opportunities is a prime example of why the league is full of it.

Isolated example: my 10-year old has shown very little interest in watching sports, though he gets excited when our teams do well. He just doesn’t want to sit and watch games very often. But when I gave him the chance to make some prop bets (for fun, not money – don’t call child services on me), he loved it and was riveted to the TV until I made him go to bed. He was really good at it, too. He nailed the coin flip prop bet, guessed the color of Adam Levine’s top correctly, hit the under on number of dogs in commercials, and more. He was way off on the total score, though, as was probably everybody else.

I’m More Patriotic With Money On the Line

One prop bet my boy hit was the over on the duration of the national anthem, sung by Atlanta treasure Gladys Knight. The over/under varied depending on the sportsbook, but was generally set at 1 minute, 50 seconds. When Knight finished the final line, “And the home of the brave,” the clock was under that mark, at 1:49.5 or thereabouts. But Knight added a flourish, repeating the word “brave,” taking the song over the two-minute plateau. Most sportsbooks decided the over was the winner, as the measured the time based on when Knight stopped singing. Some books, like BetOnline, had rules that said the song was over when the “brave” note ends for the first time. Thus, the winning bet depended on where it was placed. For its part, BetOnline decided that even though the unders were technically the winners, it was close enough and there was enough question that it paid the over bets, as well.

That wasn’t the only controversy with the Super Bowl national anthem. U.S. sportsbooks are not allowed to post national anthem bets because it is relatively easy for people to gain inside information, but offshore books do not have that restriction.

“On Friday afternoon, offshore bookmakers and bettors began hearing that Gladys Knight’s rehearsal times for the national anthem were running longer than some expected,” ESPN.com reported. “One offshore bookmaker received a text message from a confidant Friday: ‘3 rehearsals, none lip synced. 1:49, 1:50, 1:53.’”

And that’s when lots of bets started being made on the over. More information started to be leaked, saying that the audio track was 2 minutes long, easily beating the over. Some books adjusted the time on their bets, though BetOnline did not, rather making it less profitable for over bettors.

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