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Oddsmakers: Bettors favoring Packers to cover

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Posted Feb. 06, 2011 @ 2:14 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

As Super Bowl XLV nears, the pointspread is holding steady in Nevada, with the Packers a consensus 2½-point favorite against the Steelers. However, those betting Green Bay will have to pay a little more than usual at most casinos.

The vigorish, or the house's cut on a sports wager, sits at the minus-120 range at most Nevada sportsbooks whose lines are tracked by VegasInsider.com. This means bettors have to lay $12 to win $10 for a successful wager (for a total return of $22). With an eye on drawing Steelers wagers, the majority of sportsbooks whose line movements are documented by VegasInsider.com have moved the vigorish on the Steelers to an attractive plus-100. That makes it an even-money proposition, where bettors risk $10 to win $10, to take Pittsburgh. The standard vigorish is minus-110, where bettors lay $11 in an attempt to win $10.

A pair of prominent Nevada oddsmakers told PFW Sunday that they did not expect the line to move off 2½ points. Jay Rood, the race and sports book director at the MGM Resorts International properties in Nevada, and Jimmy Vaccaro, the director of sports operations and public relations at Lucky's Race and Sports Book, which operates sportsbooks throughout Nevada, said that more money had been wagered on the Packers on the line than the Steelers. However, Steelers money-line bets — wagers on Pittsburgh to win the game outright — are exceeding Green Bay money-line gambles.

Both oddsmakers said bettors have preferred the Over to the Under in wagering on the total, or the number of combined points the teams will score. The total largely ranges from 45 to 46 in Nevada, according to VegasInsider.com.

Sean Van Patten, an oddsmaker with Las Vegas Sports Consultants, said that were the Steelers and Packers to have played two or three weeks ago, the total would have been 41 or 41½. However, the public traditionally favors the Over to the Under in Super Bowls, leading the oddsmakers to set a higher total for this game.

Nevada sportsbooks took in $82.7 million in wagers on last year's Super Bowl, according to the state's Gaming Control Board. A record $94.5 million was bet on Super Bowl XL in Nevada five years ago. Nevada sportsbooks have collectively profited in nine of the last 10 Super Bowls, with the Giants' upset of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII the lone exception, according to the Gaming Control Board. How the sportsbooks will do this year remains to be seen, though the Steelers covering and the game going Under would be a good outcome for Lucky's, according to Vaccaro, who said that how a sportsbook fares on Super Sunday may not be determined until the final four hours before kickoff. 

MGM Resorts International has taken six- and seven-figure wagers on the Super Bowl, Rood said, but he hasn't seen as many of the $20,000-to-$40,000 wagers that MGM usually gets on the game. Also, he's seen a slightly smaller crowd than he expected to this point. "Something seems a little off," he said.

Vaccaro, who notes that local bettors make up a major part of Lucky's business, said he saw a lot of action Saturday morning but it's calmed down since, with wagering "steady" as of Sunday morning, he said. Vaccaro said the average wager on this Super Bowl "won't be as high" as it was five or 10 years ago, when the economy was better.

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