Year-in and year-out casinos in Las Vegas and all around Nevada foam at the mouth in anticipation for the Super Bowl in early February. The United States’ most-watched annual television event brings a lot of action to the casino sports books on a yearly basis with a significant increase in money being placed over the past the two decades. Case in point in 1991–when the New York Giants beat the Buffalo Bills 20-19–the Nevada Gaming Commission had reported that just over $40 million was bet on the game, but within less than 15 years that number had doubled to over $80 million in 2004.
With the 2013 Super Bowl match-up bringing in over $98 million to Nevada sports books, gambling prognosticators believe this year’s Super Bowl might be the first game to have more than $100 million worth of placed bets in the state of Nevada. If this year’s showdown brings in upwards of $106 million it will mean that bettors have spent more than $1 billion in combined Super Bowl bets since 2004. Here’s a look at the most bet-on Super Bowls of all time according to the Nevada Gaming Commission.
10. 2004 – Super Bowl XXXVIII – $81,242,191 in bets
With a betting line that had the Patriots as a touchdown favorite and an over-under total that was set at 37.5 points, the game in Houston proved to be a fun one for bettors who wanted points and the underdog to cover. This was the first year ever that the Nevada Gaming Commission had seen an excess of $80 million bet on the Super Bowl and the highest amount since 1998 when John Elway won his first of two Super Bowls.
The game had a strange dynamic to it as the first and third quarters didn’t produce any points. Additionally, the Patriots seemed to keep the Panthers at arms length for most of the game until Carolina scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a one-point lead, 22-21. The Patriots then responded with a touchdown and two-point conversion before the Panthers tied the game up with just over a minute left at 29-all. But Tom Brady did his magic and moved the Patriots 37 yards in a minute’s time before Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-winner for a 32-29 New England victory.
Bettors who had the Patriots or the under must have been upset with how the game played out in the fourth quarter, as 37 points were scored between the two teams and the Patriots relinquished an 11-point lead, all in the final 15 minutes. The halftime show would also inspire many to place bets on “wardrobe malfunctions” for years to come.
9. 2009 – Super Bowl XLIII – $81,514,748 in bets
After a few years where loads of money had been put down on the Super Bowl, the game in 2009 took a dip in bets, likely in large part because the state of the U.S. economy. It probably also didn’t help that the Arizona Cardinals were one of the participants, as they have been frequently marked with one of the lower valuations among NFL teams. Just like the 2004 Super Bowl, it was once again beneficial to bettors who took the over and the underdog, as this game also came down to the final two minutes.
With an over-under of 46 and a line of seven points in favor of the Steelers, bettors who put money down on the under or for the Steelers had to be licking their chops after a Jeff Reed field goal put Pittsburgh up 20-7 late in the third quarter. However, a touchdown in the middle of the fourth got the Cardinals back within six and a safety along with a touchdown 21 seconds later with a little more than two-and-a-half minutes to go gave the Cardinals a 23-20 lead. Yet, the Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led the black-and-gold 78 yards down the field in a little over two minutes to secure a 27-23 victory and a last second over for gamblers everywhere.
8. 2010 – Super Bowl XLIV – $82,726,367 in bets
Just like this year’s Super Bowl, this was a rare match-up between two No. 1 seeds as the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts used home field to their advantage to make it to Miami. With the economy still in recovery mode, bettors didn’t make a big dent by putting money on the game, but it did increase from the year before. Also, two smaller-market teams may have been a deterrent for the betting handle, only reaching the $82 million level.
Despite both teams being No. 1 seeds, many viewed Indianapolis as the clear-cut favorites and the sports books seemed to as well, favoring the Colts by five points. However, the Saints came out and shocked many, ultimately winning by a two-touchdown margin. Down 10-6 at the half, the Saints turned the game around with an onside kick to open the third quarter and capitalized with a score to take the lead. The Colts would regain it shortly thereafter, but a fourth quarter touchdown with a little less than five minutes left put the Saints up by a TD before the game was sealed with a pick-six a couple minutes later.
Again, the underdog came through, but for bettors the under was the savvy choice this time around. With two of the game’s best quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, a shootout was expected with an over-under total set at 57; however the two teams only managed to combine for 48 points.
7. 2011 – Super Bowl XLV – $87,491,098 in bets
The economy obviously had recovered somewhat by 2011 as the Nevada Gaming Commission saw nearly a $5 million increase from the year before. However, it likely helped that two of the NFL’s more popular teams faced off against one another in the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The game took place in the recently built Cowboy Stadium, and while the Green Bay Packers were a Cinderella story of sorts, barely making the playoffs as a No. 6 seed in the NFC, the green-and-gold were a field goal favorite with an over-under total of 45. Green Bay dominated most of the game taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and a 21-3 lead near the end of the second. However, Pittsburgh clawed its way back to be down 11 at the half, and then cut the lead to four points in the third and three points in the fourth. Still, that wasn’t enough as the Packers added a late field goal to win 31-25, making bettors who took the over and/or favorite very happy.
6. 2005 – Super Bowl XXXIX – $90,759,236 in bets
For the first time ever, the Nevada Gaming Commission saw the $90 million threshold broken, a big jump from the previous year when just over $81 million was bet on the Super Bowl. Again, just like 2004, the game featured the New England Patriots, favoring them by a touchdown while they won by the same margin of three points, not covering the spread.
Unlike the 2004 Super Bowl, though, the Eagles struck first taking a 7-0 lead in the middle of the second quarter. The tables turned when New England scored a touchdown late in the second quarter and early in the third to take a 7-point lead. From there, the Eagles would notch the score back up to 14-apiece late in the third quarter, but 10 consecutive points in the fourth by the Patriots basically sealed the game as the Eagles would score a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining; too little too late. Gamblers who had money on the under sweated it out near the end of the game as the 45 combined points were just shy of the over-under total at 46.5.
5. 2008 – Super Bowl XLII – $92,055,833 in bets
Big things were expected from the dominating New England Patriots in this game. Having just completed a 16-0 regular season and winning their first two playoff games, the Patriots were expected to go an unprecedented 19-0 and join the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL team to run the table. Facing the No. 5 NFC-seeded New York Giants, who the Patriots beat in the final week of the regular season, didn’t seem to concern odds-makers as they favored the Patriots by 12 points and set the over-under total at 55.
The result, however, was far different than the odds-makers could have imagined as the Giants shocked the world, winning a defensive battle 17-14. In the first half, the Giants scored first with a field goal in the first quarter before the Patriots responded with a touchdown in the second to take a 7-3 lead at the half. Then, after a scoreless third quarter, the Giants recaptured the lead early in the fourth to go up 10-7, which was followed by a Patriot touchdown with less than three minutes to go in the game for a 14-10 New England advantage. Most all of us remember what happened next as Eli Manning put together an exceptional two-minute drive with a spectacular helmet-catch from David Tyree.
4. 2006 – Super Bowl XL – $92,543,372 in bets
One reason why gambling prognosticators are optimistic about surpassing the $100 million mark in this year’s game is because of the high volume of money spent on the 2006 Super Bowl. Whether the economy played a big factor in future Super Bowls involving the Pittsburgh Steelers or not, there’s a thought that Seahawks fans put a lot of money down in this match-up, hence the higher total than other Pittsburgh-involved Super Bowls in 2009 and 2011.
Going into this game, not much faith was given to the Seahawks, despite them having a better regular season record than the Steelers as odds-makers favored Pittsburgh by five points with an over-under total of 47. Those who bet the favorite and the under were in good shape as a low-scoring affair occurred in Detroit. After a 7-3 halftime lead by the Steelers, Pittsburgh increased its advantage to 14-3 before Seattle responded late in the third to cut it to 14-10. Nevertheless, the Steelers added a touchdown in the fourth and played solid defense to win 21-10.
3. 2007 – Super Bowl XLI – $93,067,358 in bets
The highest bet on the Super Bowl up until the two most recent was the 2007 edition with two Midwest teams squaring off against one another in the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. The teams brought more than $93 million to the Nevada Gaming Commission and the odds-makers were pretty accurate with their lines. The Colts were favored by seven points in this game and won by 12, while the over-under total was 47 and the two teams combined for 46 points.
Take away the first quarter and this match-up in Miami was all Colts as Peyton Manning won his first and only Super Bowl to date by a score of 29-17. The Bears looked like they were possibly going to pull off the upset taking a 14-6 lead after the first quarter, which included a Devin Hester‘s opening kickoff return. But Indianapolis would have none of it, taking a 16-14 lead into halftime and never relinquishing it from that point forward.
2. 2012 – Super Bowl XLVI – $93,899,840 in bets
The Eli Manning vs. Tom Brady Bowl Part Two was déjà vu all over again for all parties involved. Not only did Eli lead the Giants to a last minute winning touchdown, but the Patriots were once again viewed as the favorites and both teams came up well short of the over-under total. Additionally, other similarities in this match-up included the Patriots being a No. 1 seed from the AFC while the Giants came out of the No. 4-5 NFC match-up, along with the game grossing nearly the same amount of money for Nevada casinos; $92 million (2008) compared to $93 million (2012).
Moreover, the Giants took an early lead again, taking a 9-0 advantage after the first quarter before the Patriots bounced back to take a 10-9 halftime lead. The Patriots once again held a fourth quarter lead being up 17-15, but as scripted, Manning led the Giants to score in the game’s 59th minute for a 21-17 victory. Bettors once again benefited if they took the underdog (the Patriots were favored by 2.5 points) and the under (53 points).
1. 2013 – Super Bowl XLVII – $98,936,798 in bets
One theory as to why there was nearly $99 million worth of cold-hard cash put down at Nevada casinos in 2013, the most ever for a Super Bowl, has to do with California’s proximity to Nevada and a large San Francisco 49ers fan base. Additionally, it is assumed that 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick, a University of Nevada product who set all sorts of records during his time in Reno, also had an effect on the game’s betting handle.
With the San Francisco 49ers favored by 4.5 points and a 48-point over-under total, the smart money on this game was to pick the over and the underdog Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens quickly jumped out to a big 15-point halftime lead, which increased to a 28-6 margin after Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the house. Then a mysterious power outage hit the New Orleans Superdome before play was resumed and the 49ers scored 17 unanswered points to cut the lead to 28-23. San Francisco cut the lead even further to 31-29, but missed a two-point conversion to potentially tie the game. Before the game ended a Ravens field goal and 49ers safety would be added to make up the 34-31 final.
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