Casinos and sports books across America are gearing up for the crown jewel of the sports calendar. Super Bowl LIII kicks off Sunday evening, with the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams vying for the Lombardi Trophy.
This is the first year bettors can access legal options outside of Nevada and they’re hitting the windows with force. In New Jersey, estimates on handle for The Big Game have reached $200 million and one expert suggested the Garden State will outdraw Vegas for the weekend.
Early action saw bettors tilt the lines in the first hour of availability and make New England the favorite. In the week-plus since both teams won their conference titles, little has changed.
What the operators are saying
One of the companies that has seen action is PlaySugarHouse, the NJ online book operated by Rush Street Interactive. Following a busy NFL season, the operators have seen 79% of the spread tickets towards the Pats, who are a 2.5-point favorite for Sunday. That number could certainly change, as fans may be holding their money until game day, when they can take advantage of shorter vigs and better prices on the spread and totals bets.
“We are anticipating well into seven figures of betting handle across our SugarHouse Online Sportsbook & Casino and our casinos in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh,” said Mattias Stetz, C.O.O at Rush Street Interactive. “We expect the volume of players online and in the land based sportsbooks to be up all week as players will be coming in to place their bets. We’re expecting Sunday’s game to be ten times as large as a normal NFL game and over twice as large as a conference championship game.”
In Pennsylvania, Rush Street has made a big splash with the first book in each of the major cities. Big Rivers has added Vegas icon Jimmy Vaccaro to their sportsbook staff. He’ll certainly be busy this weekend with fans from the Steel City making wagers.
At SugarHouse in Philadelphia, the fans are bummed they won’t get to see the Eagles try to repeat as world champs. However, they have come out heavily for the team Philly defeated last year. While New England has 75% of the spread bets, they have 90% of the money wagered to win and cover. Fans are also predicting another shootout, with 85% of tickets and handle on the over of 56.5.
Spreads and totals are fun but we have that all season. When it comes to the Super Bowl, books LOVE the prop bets. They’re like carnival games.
One of the biggest bets at SugarHouse right now is the coin flop. At -103 for each side, it’s one of the best prices on the board. The public is backing tails at 80%.
“People are thrilled that they can head to SugarHouse Casino to make a legal wager on the game for the first time ever in Philadelphia,” said Evan Davis, vice president and general counsel at SugarHouse Casino. “We offer a phenomenal viewing experience and expect to have a lot of people here Sunday who may normally watch games at a bar, but may want to wager on the game or even play a few hands of blackjack instead of watching the halftime show. We’ve offered a wide variety of wagering options that ranging from whether a team will score a two-point conversion to an over/under on the jersey number of the player who scores the first touchdown.”
In North Jersey, the best place to wager and watch the big game has to be FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands. The Garden State’s best performing retail spot throughout 2018 is hosting Sunday in the shadows of Gotham. Even if all the pols who put $50 on Big Blue to win the Super Bowl won’t be there, other players will be.
Those bettors who have hit the windows or FanDuel online book have come out strong for New England. As of Thursday, the book is reporting the Pats have almost 90% of the money bet on the spread on 86% of tickets sold. They also a big advantage on the money line, with 84% of handle on just 69% of bets. 32.5% of the money bet on the game was on the spread, while just over 30% was on the money line.
Other bets on the game are more even. The coin flip has tails the betting favorite but with just 54% of volume, while heads has sold 54% of the tickets. The over is still favored but marginally, on 52% of handle with 58% of the bets. Only 3.5% of the overall handle went to the total.
Both retail and online books have interesting options and odds boosts for the weekend. Look around for the best prices for your picks.