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Seahawks’ Disputed Touchdown May Have Swung $150 Million in Bets

The disputed game-ending touchdown that gave the Seattle Seahawks a 14-12 win over the Green Bay Packers last night may have swung $150 million in bets worldwide, according to Las Vegas bookmakers.

The Packers were 3 1/2-point favorites and held a 12-7 lead in Seattle before the Seahawks’ 24-yard pass on the game’s final play.

Jeff Sherman, assistant manager at the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book, estimated that about $15 million was wagered in Nevada on the National Football League’s nationally televised Monday night game and the total worldwide handle -- including offshore sportsbooks, those in Europe and illegal betting -- was about $150 million.

“For us here, it was a six-figure swing because about 85 percent of the wagers were on Green Bay,” said Sherman, who described the postgame scene in the LVH’s Super Book as “chaotic disbelief” at the result.

While Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings appeared to have intercepted the pass in the end zone, Seahawks receiver Golden Tate reached in and grabbed the ball as both players fell to the ground.

Two of the NFL’s replacement officials, who were working the game with the NFL Referees Association locked out, immediately gave different rulings, with one calling it a touchdown and the other signaling a touchback for an interception.

The ruling on the field was determined to be a touchdown, leading to widespread criticism from the media, the Packers and other NFL players who have been frustrated by mistakes made by the replacement officials.

Packer Backers

The Las Vegas-based handicapping information website estimated that 68 percent of bets were on Green Bay.

“There was more Packer money than Seattle money,” Johnny Avello, director of race and sports operations at the Wynn Las Vegas, said in a telephone interview. “The $150 million is probably a right number taking everything into consideration. Whatever money it was, 100 percent of it shifted.”

While Avello said the result won’t have a significant effect on future NFL wagers, there may be a few bettors second-guessing the effect of replacement officials.

“I’m sure there will be a few people out there who are going to say, ‘I’m not going to bet the NFL again or I’m not betting under these circumstances,’” he added.

Odds Shift

The loss dropped the Packers to 1-2, a year after they went 15-1 in the regular season, and the LVH’s Super Book moved their odds of winning the Super Bowl to 9-1 from 7-1. They had been the co-second favorites and are now fifth behind the Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens. The Seahawks, with a 2-1 record, had their odds to win the Super Bowl adjusted to 25-1 from 50-1.

“If Green Bay had won, we would have lowered them, being 2-1 and beating a conference team,” Sherman said by telephone. “There would have been some positive momentum going forward, with people placing future wagers on them, but that loss put the brakes on that and we had to react the opposite way.”

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