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Will this be the Most Bet Super Bowl Ever?

Las Vegas

Last year during the weekend of Super Bowl XLIX as I ambled through a parlay of sportsbooks from one end of Las Vegas to the other, I noticed something was a little different than in my past visits there.

Pony tails. Lots of ‘em. And I don’t mean man buns either.

Every book I strolled into I saw women interspersed at the ticket counters with their beer toting, prop sheet carousing male counterparts, waiting their turn to collect their tickets. I had many of them pegged between 25 and 35, donning NFL jerseys of their favorite teams with matching fingernail colors, fists full of cash and eyes sharply glued to the betting boards.

It was fabulous.

While it made for better scenery than the sausage heavy crowds of March Madness and other major sporting events on the Strip, it was also a clear sign to me that sports betting is more popular than ever.

Hey, I know it was the Super Bowl, the squarest event of the year. The demographic is apt to be more diverse than what you’ll see all year at the books. But the numbers also back my popularity theory.

The Nevada Gaming Commission released its annual revenue numbers on Friday and it’s clear we are seeing a pattern. Casino gambling numbers are flat – revenue is up less than one percent from 2014 at $11.1 billion. Meanwhile, sports betting took in a record $4.23 billion in 2015, which amounts to about an 8.5 percent increase compared to last year’s handle which was previously a record.

Perhaps what’s most intriguing is that for the first time ever, we saw the overall sports book handle exceed the casino hold on table games. Table games took in a profit of about $3.9 billion this past year, which was a decline of 3.8 percent compared to 2014. That’s about $300 million less than the total amount placed on sports wagers.

That may seem insignificant to some if you’re not familiar with the happenings inside the casino walls but what it shows is that we are in the midst of a changing tide in the wagering world.

Bettors are getting smarter.

The wagering public is moving away from the table games which typically carry a double digit hold percentage for the House. Instead they are migrating to the areas that are friendlier to the wallet like the slots and sportsbooks, which traditionally own holds in the five to seven percent range from year to year. (Slots saw a profit of $7.1 billion in 2015, an increase in hold of 3.8 percent compared to 2014.)

The public, it seems, is making the choice that if they are going to spend their entertainment dollars in the casino, they are going to do it on the games that give them the best chance to win – or at least to mitigate their losses.

Nothing is quite as efficient as sports betting when it comes to managing your bankroll. Ten bucks can get you a guaranteed three hours of action on an NFL Sunday if you want it too.

For all those reasons – in addition to the popularity of Peyton Manning and Cam Newton – I think we’re going to see Super Bowl 50 go down as the most wagered Super Bowl ever. That means more than the $119 million that was bet in Nevada the last Peyton Manning bowl in 2013.

Nevada's Total Super Bowl 50 Handle

Odds as of February 3 at BetOnline

  • OVER $118 Million -135
  • UNDER $118 Million +105