With 12 days to go before the Super Bowl, there is no favorite to win the big game. But it didn’t start out that way and it could be a disaster for Las Vegas sportsbooks.
Shortly after New England Patriots completed their destruction of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game, Super Bowl 49 opened with the Seattle Seahawks as 2.5- or 3-point favorites depending on where you looked.
However, in the first 24 hours of betting, the line fell all the way to a pick ’em (no favorite), a surprisingly big move for a point spread and a rare miss by Las Vegas.
Keep in mind, point spreads are not designed to predict the winner. Rather, the purpose of a point spread is to find a number where equal amounts of money are being bet on both sides. When this happens, Vegas wins as losing bets typically have to pay an extra 10% (e.g. a $100 bet actually costs $110 if it loses).
In the case of the Super Bowl, that didn’t happen. About 80% of the bets on the Big Game in the first 24 hours were on the Patriots, according to PreGame.com.
What is even more intriguing about this big swing is that the early betting action is typically done by the more seasoned and often professional gamblers making big bets (AKA “sharps”) while Joe Public typically waits until a day or two before the game or even game day.
This means that the usually smarter gamblers felt the opening line with the Seahawks favored was a terrible line and immediately put a ton of money on the Patriots including at least one “six figure” bet at the MGM Casino according to ESPN.com.
So when the Super Bowl kicks off there will likely be a lot more money riding on New England which means if the Pats win, Vegas is going to lose big time.