Super Bowl 53 Vegas Report: Who Are the Sportsbooks Rooting For?

Super Bowl 53 Vegas Report: Who Are the Sportsbooks Rooting For? article feature image

Kirby Lee, USA Today Sports.

  • The New England Patriots are 2.5-point favorites over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53 on Sunday.
  • Initially, the Patriots attracted heavy public support. But bookmakers in Las Vegas expected Rams money to show up later in the week.
  • Adam Staple spoke to some of the biggest bookmakers in Vegas to see who the sportsbooks need to cover on Sunday.

LAS VEGAS — One thing sports bettors love to know, especially around gambling holidays like the Super Bowl, is which side the sportsbooks in Las Vegas are rooting for or, “need.” For Super Bowl 53, which has a line of Patriots (-2.5) vs. the Rams, it seemed pretty clear from the beginning.

Right out of the gate, everybody and their mother seemed to be betting the Patriots, which makes sense given their pedigree and most recent performance.

But, things aren’t always so cut-and-dry when it comes to the betting market and bookmakers were weary about moving to the key number of -3, knowing that eventually Rams money would start to show up.

John Murray, the director of the Westgate SuperBook, is still waiting — and it’s pretty clear who he’ll be pulling for on Sunday.

“We are still seeing mostly Patriots support here at the SuperBook,” Murray noted. “We still have a pretty good-sized decision on the Rams (as of midday Friday). I’m hearing whispers of big bets on the Rams at other shops and I’ve maintained all along that the number will move closer to the PK range by kickoff.”

There have been reports of big bets at other shops, including one from one of Vegas’ most infamous punters — Bettor X.

William Hill reported they took a $1.5 million bet on the Rams moneyline it was latered confirmed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the bet was made by Bettor X, who won a $3 million wager on the Eagles in last year’s Super Bowl.

“I really only expected one seven figure wager and this was it.” Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill, said. “However, I do expect some heavy six-figure action as kickoff approaches.”

The Westgate has yet to see action in that range yet, but they did take a peculiar six-figure bet on the Pats.

“Surprisingly, we don’t have any very significant bets just yet.” Murray started. “Up until Friday, our biggest bet was only $35,000 up until today when we took a $120,000 on the Patriots at -2 (-120). The bettor actually bought down the half point from where our line is at -2.5. I really don’t understand his justification for that. It’s a big chunk of change to give up just to hope to get a refund back on a possible two point Pats win. But it’s the Super Bowl, people do some strange things.”

There has been some Rams money showing up around town, though.

CG Techology sportsbook director Jason Simbal indicated the trend is beginning to shift slightly towards the Rams.

“We were at about 80% of the bets on the Pats early in the week. Now we’re down to 70% on tickets wagered and about 75% of the money is on New England,” Simbal said. “Where we’re seeing a little bit of Rams money is on the moneyline. We actually went from +125 to +120 today because we took a five-figure bet on the Rams money line. That’s the biggest bet we’ve taken on the Rams thus far.”

The narrative around the spread for the game the past two weeks has been that sharp bettors were laying in the weeds, hoping to get the Rams at +3. With all the Patriots support in the early going, plenty of people thought it was going to get there, but most sportsbooks held firm at -2.5, knowing that eventually underdog bettors would come to the counter.

“I fully expect more Rams money to come in and we’ll have to adjust this line further,” Simbal explained. “I know people were hoping the trend would stay toward the Patriots and go to -3 or even -3.5 but I don’t see it. If anything, the number will only go down from here.”

The number did move to Patriots -3 at William Hill and as expected, money came pouring in on Los Angeles.

“When we adjusted the line we took so much Rams money that, in Nevada at least, we actually need the Patriots now,” Bogdanovich said. “However, back East it didn’t affect the action all that much. We still need the Rams there. It’s hard to figure out what to expect since this is the first year with wagering in multiple jurisdictions.”

William Hill seems to be on an island, though, as most other sportsbooks — at least for now — are suggesting that a Rams cover would be the best-case scenario.

“I think if we could get a Rams 31-30 win right now we’d be pretty happy,” Murray said. “I know many other spots would probably prefer to see a Pats one-point win to middle everyone but we’ve had solid moneyline action on the Patriots too so it’s possible our outlook may change but not as of right now.”