Legal Super Bowl Betting Handle is Quickly Approaching Record Territory

Jay Dieffenbach

After a relatively slow start last week, the betting handle for Super Bowl LV has picked up, with the Kansas City Chiefs favored by 3 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Early money overall last week, more than 70 percent of the game’s betting handle, was being wagered on Kansas City. Bookmakers who had the Chiefs at -3.5 quickly moved the line to 3.

The wagering trend on the over/under was similar, with 77 percent on the over causing the market to move back to 56.5 points at DraftKings Sportsbook.

The consensus among bookmakers as of Wednesday morning had the Chiefs -3 with a betting total at 56 points.

Similarly, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened with the Chiefs -3.5 but saw a significant amount of money on Tampa and moved to -3 -120.

SuperBook VP of risk management Jeff Sherman told BetQL Daily’s broadcast the Chiefs remain in front, leading in the ticket count when it comes to the spread.

"We have 65% on the Chiefs spread and expect casual fans to bet the Chiefs at -3," Sherman said. "We anticipate more bets to come in this weekend."

At PointsBet, the Chiefs money was even higher.

As the -3, -120 favorites, the Chiefs were drawing 78 percent of the bets and a whopping 92 percent of the betting handle, according to a tweet from ESPN’s David Purdum on Tuesday.

What a difference a week makes. Last week, Sherman had reported a good deal of Buccaneers support, including an $80,000 bet at +3.5. And, as to the point spread, along with 75 percent of the action on Tampa, there was a 6-1 ratio on the Bucs’ money line wagers.

This Super Bowl promises to be wildly entertaining.

The quarterback matchup, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady helps to make it “as pretty as you can get,” DraftKings’ Johnny Avello told CBS News. “It just looks like a winner all around.”

Record Numbers for the Legal Betting Handle?

The game is expected to set a record for legal handle, according to a report from the American Gaming Association.

With well north of 20 million people in the U.S. targeted to bet $4.3 billion on the game, according to the AGA, there will be an increase of well over 63 percent in online sportsbook bets on Sunday.

“This year’s Super Bowl is expected to generate the largest single-event legal handle in American sports betting history,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said in a press release on Tuesday.

The focus there is “legal handle,” since the overall numbers are expected to decline from last year.

There’s a predicted decrease of about 37 percent, per the AGA report. Last year their estimate was 26 million Americans betting $6.8 billion on Super Bowl LIV.

Moving the legal handle higher is the state-by-state trend for sports betting. It has continued upward over the past year, with seven jumping into the pool.

Mobile betting, compromising 82 percent of legal bets, is underway in Virginia, Illinois, Colorado, Tennessee and Michigan.

The confluence of COVID-19 and the recent snowstorms also conspired to keep bettors at home – and more likely to open their betting apps.

And mobile betting on the BetMGM app is responsible for a $2.3 million wager on Tampa Bay at +3.5.

The Prop Game

Everyone loves talking props, from the length of the national anthem to the coin flip to this one: Yardage of Made Field Goals. The Las Vegas SuperBook opened this at 112.5 and it is now up to 119.5. The guess, apparently, is for a number of stalled drives – and accurate kicking.

And you never know what the bettor is thinking. This prop has had a puzzling series of twists and turns: Number of Kickoff Returns in the Game. It opened at 3.5, under -190, over +170, but it is now at under -130 and over +110.

"We had a strong opinion on this because with these kickers you don't see many returns," the SuperBook’s Sherman told BetQL. "But, we've seen nothing but over money, so we made the adjustment."

The star of the prop show may turn out to be Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman. With fellow wideout Sammy Watkins’ status (and potential effectiveness) in doubt, several outlets have had to move off the initial number of over/under 2.5 receptions because so many have bet the over.

The SuperBook also moved his To Score a Touchdown prop from +400 to +300.

"We have over 400 props and over 1000 ways to wager," Sherman said. "Surely we will have some weaknesses when we open, but bettors come in, iron it out and that makes us stronger."

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