Potential snowfall totals and record-low temperatures are among the extra variables oddsmakers have to take into consideration this year before they release their Super Bowl proposition wagers.
When the Denver Broncos meet the Seattle Seahawks in the National Football League’s championship game on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, it will mark the first time in the Super Bowl’s 48-year history that the game is played outdoors at a site with cold winter weather.
The sports book at the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas is delaying the release of its so-called prop bets, such as how many touchdown passes Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning might throw, due to concerns about the weather’s effect. Prop bets now account for as much as 60 percent of the total money wagered on the Super Bowl at some Nevada sports books.
“Everything, except for the basic stuff, is going to pushed back a day or two so we can get a much more clearer picture of what the weather is going to be like,” Jay Rood, sports book director at the MGM Mirage, said in a telephone interview from Las Vegas.
The Broncos are 2- to 2 1/2-point favorites for a matchup that may have a game-time temperature below freezing. The coldest temperature at kickoff for a Super Bowl in a non-domed stadium was 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) in New Orleans in 1972.
Rood said the MGM Mirage tomorrow will put up some initial props, such as the first player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Yet the more comprehensive player prop bets the sports book usually completes by the Monday before the Super Bowl probably won’t go out until Wednesday the 29th.
“If we get a forecast that says there’s absolutely no chance that the weather is going to be that impactful, as far as snow or whatever, we might accelerate that,” Rood said. “But probably not.”
The Las Vegas Hotel’s SuperBook doesn’t plan to delay the Jan. 23 release of its Super Bowl props, yet assistant manager Jeff Sherman said oddsmakers will be watching weather forecasts when compiling betting lines.
“We’ll see what the weather is looking like at that time and make our numbers based on that,” Sherman said by phone. “Every day we’ll just check it and if it looks like things are changing, we’ll make the necessary adjustment. We’d rather it be nice conditions and hopefully not have an effect on the game as far as causing more turnovers or if a quarterback is having trouble throwing the ball in windy conditions.”
The SuperBook last year offered more than 300 team and player prop bets, from the longest field goal and which starting quarterback would have more passing yards to whether San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore would have more rushing touchdowns than goals scored by Lionel Messi for Barcelona in a Spanish La Liga soccer match the same day.
Sherman said prop bets account for about 60 percent of the Super Bowl betting handle at the SuperBook, which is the largest sportsbook in Las Vegas.
“Every year when we put these up on that Thursday evening, we have a line out the door of people waiting to bet them,” Sherman said. “Mostly people like to bet unders. I could see this year more of them saying, ‘We’re going to bet the under and if the weather is bad, maybe it will work to our benefit. If it’s not, we’ll work with it.’”
Public interest in proposition bets skyrocketed about 28 years ago, when 325-pound defensive lineman William “Refrigerator” Perry had a 1-yard touchdown run for the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl. Vegas sports books had recently started offering prop bets, and gave up to 100-1 odds on whether Perry, who had two rushing touchdowns that season, would score. It was a costly result for the books, yet prop bets overall have helped oddsmakers make a profit or offset any losses on wagers from the game’s result.
“It’s why the props were invented,” Rood said. “If the game doesn’t go our way, at least we have an out on the props to maybe recoup losses if we get crushed with one-way action on the game.”
Sports book operators have consultants that send alerts on anything that might affect betting lines, from injuries and off-field incidents involving players to the weather.
After the Super Bowl was played in domed stadiums the past three years, weather forecasts take more importance this season, especially with the game held in the New York area.
“We’re pretty mindful of everything,” Rood said. “We might start up with fairly low betting limits to start out. Then we’d amp it up as the crowds show up in Las Vegas that Friday before the game. By then, we’d know with more certainty what’s in store weather-wise.”