Green Bay’s not the only place that loves the Packers. In this city’s sports books, the rush is on to bet the favorite in the Super Bowl, despite a prohibitive two-touchdown point spread.
Green Bay might not be America’s team quite yet, but the Packers are certainly popular at betting windows up and down the Las Vegas Strip.
Much like last year with the Dallas Cowboys, bettors are ignoring the big point spread in their eagerness to get their money down on the Packers over the New England Patriots.
At the Mirage hotel-casino, the original 13-point line posted in the final minutes of New England’s win over Jacksonville went up to 14 points before the AFC championship game was even over as bettors rushed to get Green Bay action.
“They snapped it up like vultures,” Mirage sports book assistant director Yolanda Acuna said. “It was like we were giving away something for free, they wanted it so bad.”
The early flurry of betting pushed the line, which started at 13-1/2 points at most Las Vegas books, to 14 points, where it is likely to linger until the final rush of betting the weekend of the game itself.
Though some oddsmakers say the line might have been less than 10 points if the game were played during the regular season, the two-touchdown spread has yet to attract much New England money.
“The early money has been almost entirely on the Packers,” said Michael “Roxy” Roxborough, whose Las Vegas Sports Consultants sets the line for the major books. “If you were to bet New England, you wouldn’t bet it now. You would wait to see if you could get 14-1/2 or 15 points.”
The one book that did get money on the Patriots was the Excalibur, where book director Sid Diamond opened the line at 15 points in an effort to get bets on New England.
Diamond held a lottery Monday morning for bettors to get a chance to put up to $5,000 on the Patriots plus 15 points, and within an hour had dropped the line to 14-1/2 and then 14.
The Super Bowl, which drew a record $70.9 million in legal bets last year, is the one sporting event where the public actually controls the line instead of the big bettors.
No matter who wins, oddsmakers say they are happy that two established teams got into the Super Bowl instead of expansion upstarts Jacksonville and Carolina.