Big sports betting action for Super Bowl 2020

Vegas casino sportsbooks around the United States reported $270 million in handle for bets placed on Super Bowl 54. Nevada took in more than half of that total and the other 9 states with legal sports betting split the other half.  The legal bets don’t tell the story though – the American Gaming Association estimates that the real total, which includes illegal bets, was $6.8 billion.  

Biggest Winners

Nevada took the most Super Bowl betting handle with $154.7 million. While some states had a negative hold, due to the unexpected Kansas City Chiefs’ win, Nevada had a positive hold of 12.1% which translated into $18.8 million in revenue. While the total was less than 2018’s $156.8 million for the state, it was still a satisfying conclusion to a generally successful football season for Nevada sportsbooks.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania took second and third place but analysts believe that they could eventually top Nevada for most U.S. sports betting handle thanks to their mobile betting apps.

New Jersey took in $54.2 million in bets which put them about 55% over last year’s total.  Revenue was a negative hold of 7.8% or $4.3 million. In Pennsylvania, $30.7 million was bet in legal Super Bowl wagers with online accounting for almost 80% of that.

Pennsylvania was one of the states that had a negative hold -- sportsbooks lost $3.3 million on the game in the Keystone State.  Interest in the Pennsylvania mobile sports betting apps was high -- nearly 200,000 unique sports betting accounts logged into sports betting sites for the Super Bowl, up almost 100% over previous NFL Sundays. 

Other States

Rhode Island had a positive hold where revenue was almost $805,000.  $5.5 million was taken in  bets, down from $6.5 million, which was to be expected given that the New England Patriots weren’t in the 2020 game. Rhode Island has mobile betting but the absence of a local team couldn’t be compensated for by the presence of a Rhode Island mobile betting app. 

In New Hampshire, sports betting is relatively new but the new DraftKings Sportsbook, which launched in December 2019, took in more than $2.3 million on the Super Bowl. Total New Hampshire bets now stand at $20.8 million.

In West Virginia, Delaware North’s Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos reopened their sportsbook operations with the help of Genius Sports data service and a partnership with a technology company.  That collaboration  brought $3.9 million in revenue to the state. The new BetMGM operation brings MGM Resorts and GVC Holdings into partnership for mobile West Virginia sports betting.

Delaware, where all bets are placed at on-site casino and racetrack venues, took $2.1 million in bets but the Chiefs’ unexpected win resulted in negative revenue of $229,000. That included $1.4 million from straight Super Bowl bets and parlay cards. $328,000 came throughout the season on futures.

In Oregon more than 90,000 bettors, including 6,700 new bettors, placed wagers valued at over $2 million to drive the Oregon Scoreboard app, powered by SBT Tech for the Oregon Lottery, to take in $150,000 in gross revenue for the state from Super Bowl sportsbooks bets. Mississippi handle was $6.7 million, up from $4.7 million in 2019.

Super Bowl betting totaled more than $6.5 million in Iowa. Heavy action on the Chiefs led Iowa sportsbooks to experience a significant negative hold. Currently, Iowa requires in-person registration for its mobile apps and most observers feel that, had that requirement not been an issue, handle in Iowa would likely have been higher. 

Game Day

MGM sportsbooks in Las Vegas had a nerve-wracking day but in the end, things came out well. To start out the afternoon the casinos saw the most popular prop bet, that referring to which player will score the first touchdown of the Super Bowl, cost them dearly when 21-to-1 favorite Patrick Mahomes scored for the Chiefs.

In the end though, Vegas sportsbooks came out winners. Even though the early bets were on the Chiefs, money on the 49ers started to come in the Wednesday before the big game. Two high rollers placed bets on the 49ers and overs that totaled $2.1 million. Most of the other bets were over the total so the sportsbooks, which needed the Chiefs to win and kept their hopes on the under, had a great day.

According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the hold for the Super Bowl for all casinos was  a satisfying 12.1 percent. MGM said that it was their best win percentage since at least 2008 and maybe even the best that the MGM sportsbook has ever had. Overall win for Nevada casinos was $18,774,148.

High Rollers

MGM had two high rollers to thank, in particular, for their successful Super Bowl handle. Houston-based owner of Gallery Furniture “Mattress Matt” lost a straight $1 million bet against the Chiefs in the playoffs – the third time that he’s swallowed such a loss. The other bettor who bet anonymously lost all three of his big wagers -- $2.1 million on the 49ers and over for the game, a bet on the first half over and a second half bet on the 49ers.

Super Bowl  Plays

The sportsbooks in Nevada had their nervous moments, especially on the unders. The over/under wavered between 51 and 55 points in the two weeks before the Super Bowl, meaning that anything between those numbers would have meant that the sportsbooks would have taken a hit. A late touchdown by Damien Williams left the door open for over bettors to win.

The tension went down to the last minutes as the 49ers, down 11 points, controlled the ball late in the game. A field goal combined with an onside kick could have thrown the game for the sportsbooks but the last-minute sweating was for naught and the Chiefs held onto their lead to win the game.

The icing on the cake for the Nevada sportsbooks was seeing Mahomes win the MVP.

Almost immediately after the game the sportsbooks began to open odds on next season’s Super Bowl. According to MGM, four teams are already in the running, according to numbers of bets received, to win Super Bowl 55. They include the Seattle Seahawks and the Dallas Cowboys followed by the Las Vegas Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. Seattle seems to be the dark horse but, after the Chiefs’ success this year, no one is counting anyone out.

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