Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 | 2 a.m.
Super Bowl Betting Totals
As far as Nevada is concerned, the 2006 Super Bowl comes in as the greatest ever.
Super Bowl XL, which paired the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks, generated a record $94.5 million worth of sports wagers in the state. At least one prominent sports book director in town thinks this year’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints could surpass that total.
“I believe that the total handle for the state will be a nice number,” said John Avello, race and sports book director at Wynn Las Vegas. “It could be the biggest number of all time.”
A new Super Bowl betting record would be considered a major triumph as the state and nation still battle back from the economic downturn.
The economy is the main reason why most in the gaming community aren’t making predictions as bold as Avello's. Frank Streshley, Nevada Gaming Control Board analyst, said he was not expecting a major increase from last year’s betting total of $81.5 million.
“With the economy still down, I don’t think you are going to see it break any records,” Streshley said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it beats last year because of the interest with these two teams, but we don’t expect anything drastic.”
Last year’s Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals made for the smallest handle in the last five years and an $11 million drop-off from the year before, when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots.
The sharp decline between the 2008 and 2009 games illustrates why Streshley is hesitant to anticipate an increase in 2010. Avello begs to differ.
“I base it on this year, even with the economy, sports did well,” Avello said. “Sports held its own. So, I don’t see any reason why we can’t set a record.”
Jay Kornegay, executive director of the Las Vegas Hilton sports book, says he knows a reason why it won’t happen: The teams.
Although the matchup between the Saints and Colts could make for an exciting and possibly high-scoring game, Kornegay said their fan bases aren’t large enough to support wagering in excess of $90 million.
“I don’t think we’re coming close to setting any record. Absolutely not,” Kornegay said. “We are taking baby steps to get back to where we were. If the Chargers were facing the Vikings or even the Cowboys, maybe we could talk a little bit about setting records, but not with these two teams.”
Kornegay predicted an increase of about five percent from last year, which would bring the total to about $86 million.
“Last year, it was the biggest sporting event versus the economy. I have to say the economy won,” Kornegay said. “But it’s the rematch this year. I think the economy was the favorite last year, but I think it’s a pick ‘em this year.”
Record or not, next Sunday will be Las Vegas sports books’ biggest day of the year.
“It’s proven that no matter what two teams are in it, it will be a big take-in for the books,” Kornegay said.