One of the largest sports bookmaking businesses in Las Vegas suffered a "multi-million dollar loss" on the Super Bowl because gamblers placed three seven-figure bets on the victorious Philadelphia Eagles, who were the underdogs against the vaunted New England Patriots. The pregame betting lines favored the Pats by 5 to 6.5 points.
According to William Hill Sports Book, those big wagers were placed between Jan. 29 and Feb. 2 and were cashed for $4.63 million. Other bettors also correctly predicted the point spread, the amount a player has to bet to win $100 and the total number of points scored. They cashed in for $4.63 million, with the biggest individual winner earning $1.65 million.
Other high rollers made outsized bets on the Eagles that paid off. One gambler dubbed Bettor-X placed a $3 million wager on Philadelphia in recent weeks that could have netted a payout as high as $5.4 million. Six-figure Eagles bets were also placed at Wynn Las Vegas, CG Technology and South Point, according to Covers.com, a site that focuses on gaming.
All told, gamblers wagered a record $158.6 million on the big game at Nevada's 198 sports books, over $20.1 million more than in 2017. But the unaudited tallies released Monday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board showed sports books made a profit of only about $1.2 million on the action, around $9.8 million less than in 2017 and not even close to the $19.7 they cleared in 2014.
As soon as the Super Bowl LII matchup had been decided, the New England Patriots were the favorites to win their sixth Super Bowl against the Eagles, who last won a pro football championship in 1960. The underdogs were also beset by injuries to key players, including starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who had been a contender to be the National Football League's Most Valuable Player.
Nick Foles, who took over from Wentz in December, was named Super Bowl MVP after completing 28 out of 43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns. He was the first player in Super Bowl history to both throw and catch a touchdown pass.
As the pregame odds showed, expectations for Foles from fans and sports pundits were low. Last month, he was a 50-to-1 shot to win the MVP award, though the odds moved more into his favor as the big game drew closer.
William Hill and other bookmakers took a beating on the so-called propriety, or prop bets, where bettors wager on almost anything related to the game. Unfortunately for the bookmakers, those went the Eagles' way as well, according to Covers.com.
"Props are really looking ugly at this point." Jay Kornegay, who oversees the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, told the site. One of the proposition bets that hurt the Westgate was whether Philly QB Foles would score a touchdown. When he did, that bet paid 8-1.
Kornegay said every single one of the players who scored a touchdown had a proposition bet on him. "Not only did they score a touchdown, but we also had props on whether they would score in the first half," Kornegay said. It was a double whammy for us."
The American Gaming Association estimated that $4.76 billion was be wagered on the NFL Championship game, most of which is done illegally.