Posted: Tuesday February 8, 2005 9:05PM; Updated: Tuesday February 8, 2005 9:05PM
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Nevada sports books are beginning to love when the New England Patriots play in the Super Bowl.
For the second year in a row, the popular Patriots took the title but didn't cover the point spread, helping sports books around the state win a record $15.4 million, according to state figures released Tuesday. The amount won was a 24 percent increase from the previous year.
"It's going to be hard for us to root against the Patriots," said Robert Walker, sports book director at MGM Mirage casinos.
The state also set a record in the amount wagered on the Super Bowl with $90.7 million, up from $81.2 million a year ago.
"Those are some pretty impressive figures," said Frank Streshley, a research analyst with the state Gaming Control Board. "We thought it would be a number similar to last year."
Thanks to a 24-21 Patriots win and the seven-point spread, Streshley said bettors lost on three wagers in particular at the 173 sports books around the state.
Many people bet the favored Patriots minus seven points; they bet a parlay that involved taking the Patriots minus a touchdown and betting the total amount of points would be above 471/2 or 48; and they sought a higher payoff by wagering the Philadelphia Eagles would win straight up.
Most gamblers believed the Patriots, coming from the superior AFC, would romp against the Eagles. They looked at how the Patriots easily defeated the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers on the way to the big game and they remembered the Patriots two Super Bowl victories in 2004 and 2002.
"A lot of people unfortunately got burned," said Bob Scucci, Stardust race and sports book director.
Scucci expected the game to get a lot of betting action but he was surprised at how much the sports book won and the total amount wagered.
"We knew the matchup was going to be great and we had a solid seven-point line," he said. "But that's unbelievable. That's a huge jump."
Walker said the biggest bet he took was $500,000 on the Patriots. Walker said his casinos also had a lot of betting action involving side or exotic bets, called propositions.
As usual the safest side bet involved whether the Super Bowl would go into overtime. It has never happened in the 39-year history of the event.
Scucci said bettors learned a tough lesson this year.
"Be careful about laying a lot of lumber or giving away too many points."
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