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October 26, 2014

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Las Vegas sports books profit once again on Super Bowl

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Half the lights are out in the Superdome during a power outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez)

Super Bowl XLVII

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and quarterback Joe Flacco celebrate their 34-31 win against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The lights in Las Vegas sports books should stay on for the foreseeable future.

The approximately 184 sports books throughout Nevada made enough money on Super Bowl XLVII to at least pay their electrical bills. But they didn’t make enough to shell out for a Beyonce halftime show.

The Baltimore Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans, which will be remembered for the 34-minute delay in the third quarter after a power outage at the Superdome, wasn’t the best result for Las Vegas. It wasn’t the worst, either.

“We’re a small winner,” reported Jimmy Vaccaro, the spokesman for William Hill sports books. “We ended up with some Ravens moneyline late, so that took some of our steam out. But we did OK.”

Books made money on the Super Bowl for the sixth straight year, making a profit on the most bet-on game in sports each year for the 20th time in the last 22 seasons.

Sports book directors weren’t raving about the result as Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco — who went over the three most popular proposition wagers posted by sports books with 287 passing yards, 22 completions and three touchdowns — accepted his MVP trophy underneath a swarm of falling confetti. They were, however, rather positive about the handle.

The record $94.5 million wagered on the 2006 Super Bowl, when the Pittsburgh Steelers covered the 3-point spread in a 21-10 over the Seattle Seahawks, is within reach.

“If everyone did what we did, then I would expect we’d break the record,” MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. “We fared pretty well, but it’s difficult to say how everyone else did. There’s a strong possibility that some of the local places could have seen more Ravens money.”

Most places in town saw Ravens action when they opened as a 5-point underdog two weeks ago, which plummeted the 49ers down to as low as 3.5-point favorites. But Niners action came out in full force in the last three days, driving the spread back up to as high as minus-4.5.

Bettors on the other side weren’t shy about taking the Ravens +165 (risking $1 to win $1.65) on the moneyline. Strong opinions abound on both sides, hence why Rood said MGM took several six-figure bets starting Friday afternoon until Sunday’s kickoff.

“I was really surprised,” he said. “We probably had a few more of them on the 49ers, but the Ravens got some support too. I think that’s what dictated our result.”

The prop bets were no help to MGM or several other books. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the most bet-on player in Super Bowl history, went over both his passing and rushing yards props by 70 and 12, respectively.

What hurt the worst was the Ravens intentional safety at the end of the game and Jacoby Jones 108-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter. Bettors pile on the “yes” for whether there will be a safety, which most sports books offer at +800, and defensive or special teams touchdown, available at +200, every year.

“The props were a very small winner,” Vaccaro said. “The Kaepernick kid didn’t help. The safety and touchdown were two of the bigger ones of the day and we lost both of them, but we beat most of the other ones safely.”

The best-case scenario for Las Vegas was if the 49ers won but didn’t cover the spread. Sports books would have raked in millions with that scenario.

Vaccaro and his counterparts around town were salivating when Kaepernick led San Francisco to a first-and-goal series with two minutes left in the game.

“If the 49ers would have scored there to knock out the Ravens moneyline but not cover the point spread,” Vaccaro said, “that would have been the best of the best.”

Instead, Kaepernick threw three straight incompletions after the 49ers picked up a small gain on first down. Las Vegas settled for a slight win.

“The 49ers sneaking in there would have been perfect,” Rood said. “But it didn’t happen. It went kind of like the rest of the season did for us.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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  1. Thank you Ravens. You made my day!