The safety taken by Baltimore punter Sam Koch with four seconds left in the Ravens’ 34-31 Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers was one final blow in what may have been a losing night for Las Vegas bookmakers.
The Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book was among those in Nevada that had the majority of bettors wagering on the underdog Ravens and a high-scoring National Football League title game.
Baltimore held on for the win last night at the Superdome in New Orleans to cover a point spread that moved to +3 1/2 points from +5, while the 65 combined points easily eclipsed the oddsmakers’ over/under of 49 points. It was the second Super Bowl in which both teams scored more than 30 points.
“The Ravens’ outright win and the over was our book’s least desirable outcome,” LVH Super Book assistant manager Jeff Sherman said in an e-mail.
The late safety just added to the misery.
Most sports books offer an extensive list of proposition bets and whether a safety will be scored in the Super Bowl is regularly among the most popular. When Koch ran crucial seconds off the clock before stepping out of the end zone and giving the 49ers two points it marked the second straight year there’s been a Super Bowl safety. Before last season’s title game, there were six safeties in the previous 45 years and a winning $100 wager on that prop bet at the LVH Super Book would have returned $900 plus the initial stake.
“The safety prop was not good for the books,” Sherman said. “Especially after coming in the previous year, it was well supported again this year.”
More than $10 billion was projected to be wagered on the Super Bowl worldwide, according to Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com, with less than 1 percent of that total bet legally in Nevada.
Nevada’s sports books, most of which are located in Las Vegas and Reno, have made a profit on the Super Bowl in 20 of the past 22 years, according to the state’s Gaming Control Board. Last season, a total of $93.9 million was wagered on the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory -- the second most in history -- and Nevada’s sports books won $5.06 million. This year’s results will be disclosed later this week.
The last time Las Vegas failed to make a profit on Super Bowl wagers was after the Giants’ upset win over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in 2008, when Nevada sports books lost a combined $2.6 million.
Baltimore last night opened a 28-6 third-quarter lead and then withstood a 49ers’ comeback that started after a power failure that caused a 34-minute delay at the Superdome. The Ravens, led by linebacker Ray Lewis, used a defensive stand in the closing minute to deny San Francisco a go-ahead touchdown and hold on for their second Super Bowl title.
The Ravens won their final three postseason games as underdogs, and the NFL’s newest champions won’t be Super Bowl favorites heading into next season.
The Patriots are listed as the 7-1 favorites, according to Pregame.com, followed by the 49ers and Denver Broncos at 8-1. The Green Bay Packers have 10-1 odds, while the Ravens and Houston Texans are tied for fifth at 14-1.