ootball fans bet legally on the Super Bowl from states other than Nevada for the first time Sunday, with the excitement spreading from Las Vegas to as far as Rhode Island.
Sunday’s big game was the first major sporting event for sportsbooks in a handful of states that opened after the U.S. Supreme Court in May struck down a ban on sports betting. People lined up at sportsbooks starting Sunday morning, picking between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams as well as a wide variety of other outcomes, from heads or tails in the opening coin toss to whether Tom Brady would throw an interception.
New Jersey sportsbooks lost a net $4.5 million on the New England Patriots' 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, according to numbers released Monday by the Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Just under $35 million was bet on the Super Bowl at New Jersey sportsbooks, which opened for business for the first time last summer at casinos and racetracks. In their first six months operating, New Jersey books accepted more than a $1 billion in bets and won a net $72 million, but Sunday didn't go their way.
DraftKings said it took 300,000 bets on the Super Bowl and ended up suffering a loss of "just over seven figures" on the game. FanDuel, SugarHouse and William Hill's New Jersey sportsbooks also reported losses on the Super Bowl, while online book BetStars told the media that it won on the game.
"If our customers are winning, we're winning," a DraftKings spokesman said regarding the loss.
Nevada sportsbooks fared much better, although the amount wagered on the Super Bowl dipped in Las Vegas. Nevada books won $10.7 million on the $145.9 million wagered on the Super Bowl, the state gaming control announced Monday. The $145.9 million bet on the Super Bowl is the second-most ever in Nevada but down nearly 8 percent from last year's record of $158.45 million wagered on the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Patriots.
"Nevada's handle numbers were very strong in December and January," said Art Manteris, a 40-year Las Vegas veteran bookmaker now a vice president at Station Casinos. "Personally, I'm not alarmed at all. Our properties were jammed, our hotel capacity was great and the crowds at all 16 sportsbooks were at capacity."
Jay Kornegay, director for SuperBook USA and a 25-plus-year Las Vegas bookmaker, agreed with Manteris and didn't think the drop in handle was caused by the new states offering sports betting. Kornegay pointed to Patriots fatigue and noted that a large customer who bet $8 million to $10 million on last year's Super Bowl didn't put as much in play this year.
Those were the "main reasons" for the dip, Kornegay wrote in a text message to ESPN.
The $10.7 million win for Nevada came more from futures bets on the odds to win the Super Bowl and proposition wagers than the outcome of the game. The majority of sportsbooks -- in Nevada and New Jersey -- ended up rooting for the Rams to cover the 2.5-point spread. The action, however, was more lopsided on the Patriots in New Jersey than Nevada, where two of three reported seven-figure wagers were on the underdog Rams.
Since Nevada Gaming Control began tracking the betting action on the Super Bowl in 1991, the state's sportsbooks have suffered only two net losses (Giants-Patriots in 2009 and Chargers-49ers in 1995).
Lawmakers in at least 24 states have introduced or publicly contemplated sports betting bills already this year. The proposals range from allowing charities to offer sports betting at fundraisers in North Dakota to full sportsbooks with online wagers allowed in states including Kansas and Massachusetts.
In Rhode Island, the only state in the New England that has legalized sports betting, two casinos took plenty of wagers on the Patriots since posting the odds on their boards. Several people placing bets in that state for the Super Bowl this week said they’ve wagered on sports in Las Vegas in the past.
Jaymes Peckham went to Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, with his roommate and wagered about $100 on which team will win the coin toss and other proposition bets, which are wagers offered on unique and various outcomes. He said he likes having a place to bets on sports so close to his home in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
“It’s nice and I’m definitely all for it, as far as tax revenue is concerned,” Peckham, 27, said. “It’s unique. I also think in future years, it’ll give people more of a reason to watch the games.”
If he didn’t have a place to bet on the Super Bowl close to home, Peckham said he may have bet on the outcome of the Super Bowl with his friends. He said he knows people who use bookies and betting websites but he does not.
In Las Vegas, the Westgate and the sportsbooks operated by Caesars Entertainment, including at the Linq casino-hotel, had the Patriots as 2 1/2-point favorite.
Joel Mallari, of Tustin, California, made arrangements for a trip to Las Vegas with a friend after the game was set. They chose to watch the game at the Linq’s newly renovated sportsbook and put money on the Rams to win as well as on proposition and parlay bets.
“We are here to make money and enjoy the game,” Mallari said enthusiastically as he looked through a set of legal-size sheets with all the available wagers.
“Betting makes things a little more exciting, even small figures,” his friend, Eric Alvarez of Riverside, California, said.