MIAMI — One bettor had an unfathomably bad Super Bowl Sunday last year as the Los Angeles Rams lost to the New England Patriots. So bad that their losses could have bought a pretty good free-agent safety for some NFL team.
Nevada won almost $10.8 million on Super Bowl bets last year, and a staggering amount came from one person.
“Out of the $10 million win, it was estimated one bettor, nicknamed ‘Bettor X,’ lost close to $4 million himself here in Nevada,” said Jeff Stoneback, director of trading operations for MGM Resorts International. “So, he alone could have been responsible for 40 percent of the state's win.”
With that, the legend of “Bettor X” was born around Las Vegas. And you thought Sean McVay and Jared Goff had a bad day during Super Bowl LIII.
The lesson as always: The house always wins, especially during the Super Bowl. Nevada casinos didn’t have one losing Super Bowl in the 2010s.
Nevada wins big on Super Bowls
Last year’s Patriots-Rams game was a the fourth-biggest win for Nevada sportsbooks on a Super Bowl, thanks in large part to one person.
But it’s not unusual for the books to turn a tidy profit. Some years are better than others, but nine of the last 10 Super Bowls have been worth at least $1 million to sportsbooks and four turned an eight-figure profit. Here are the Nevada Gaming Control Board figures for how much Nevada has made on bets over the last 10 Super Bowls:
2010, Saints-Colts: $6,857,101
2011, Packers-Steelers: $724,176
2012, Giants-Patriots: $5,064,470
2013, Ravens-49ers: $7,206,460
2014, Seahawks-Broncos: $19,673,960
2015, Patriots-Seahawks: $3,261,066
2016, Broncos-Panthers: $13,314,539
2017, Patriots-Falcons: $10,937,826
2018, Eagles-Patriots: $1,170,432
2019, Patriots-Rams: $10,780,319
That’s a $78,990,349 profit over a decade of Super Bowl bets for Nevada.
Sportsbooks typically set betting lines that try to get close to equal action on both sides. Bettors have to pay a 10 percent vigorish if they bet on either team with the point spread, or on the over/under, risking $110 to win $100. That’s where the house gets its edge, and why Super Bowl Sunday is usually a winner for Las Vegas no matter which team lifts the Lombardi Trophy.
There’s no mystery how casinos can keep giving you those free drinks at the craps table.
Super Bowl wagering has been on a steady climb
For sportsbooks the Super Bowl is, well, their Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday and the first week of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament are the two biggest annual sporting events for Las Vegas. Regular season weekends for college and NFL football are also huge for a sportsbook’s year.
For a single game, nothing could eclipse the volume of the Super Bowl. It reached a peak for the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl two years ago, with $158,586,934 in bets on the game according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Last year was down a bit, at $145,939,025, but aside from slight dips in 2015 and 2019, gambling on the Super Bowl climbed every year the past decade. It has almost doubled since 2010, when $82,726,367 was wagered on the Saints’ win over the Colts.
Like March Madness, Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas is a bucket-list item for sports fans. The effect on the entire city, not just the sportsbooks, is enormous.
“It’s such an event for the town itself,” Stoneback said. “It’s not just the sportsbooks, it’s the whole city. The hotels fill up.”
And no matter what happens on Sunday in Super Bowl LIV — over, under, the Chiefs covering the spread, the 49ers pulling an upset, even Jimmy Garoppolo scoring the first touchdown — the books will likely turn a profit.
The only question is how good the weekend will be for them.
“It’s not going to make or break our year,” Stoneback said. “But it is nice to have a good Super Bowl.”
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