Super Bowl prop bets get bizarre


New Haven Register

In the mid-1960s, officials of the National Football League and rival American Football League began serious merger talks and an agreement to merge was reached prior to the 1966 regular season, with the champions of each league meeting in a world championship.

Lamar Hunt, owner of the American Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs, used the term Super Bowl to refer to the world championship. It stuck.

At the time, Hunt and his contemporaries surely had no idea that the Super Bowl would take on a life of its own. In addition to the game and its huge onsite and television audience there are the television commercials that try to out-do one another and private and public Super Bowl parties become events within themselves.

Instead of marching bands, you have superstar singers and bands performing the Star Spangled Banner and high-octane halftime shows.

Even betting on the game has taken on a life of its own.

Sure, in Las Vegas you can still bet on who will win. Denver is currently a 2.5-point favorite to beat Seattle. But about 30 years ago, in an attempt to make the game interesting for the novice and non-football fans and entice them to make bet or two, sports books developed the proposition bet, or prop bet for short.

A prop bet is a wager based on an outcome that does not relate directly to the event’s final result, usually using a money line to bet. If a wager is listed as -150, you wager $150 to make $100. If it is listed as +150, you wager $100 to make $150.

Nevada sports books are only allowed to offer prop bets that are game-related. The wild and wacky prop bets are on Internet wagering sites, where the federal government has made it tough to bet by making it illegal for United States financial institutions to fund an online wagering account.

Going back 25-30 years ago the prop bet wager represented less than 5 percent of the overall Super Bowl betting in Las Vegas. Five years ago it represented 20-25 percent of the overall wagering. Las Vegas Hotel Sportsbook director Jay Kornegay develops the most prop bets each year and said the popularity of the bet has skyrocketed. He set another Nevada record this year with 353 prop bets, breaking last year’s mark of 340.

The prop bet popularity actually took off in 1986 when Las Vegas sports books offered a wager involving Chicago defensive lineman William "The Refrigerator" Perry. In the regular season Chicago coach Mike Ditka would occasionally use Perry as a fullback on goal-line situations and he actually scored two touchdowns. The odds were about 6-1 that he would score a TD in the Super Bowl and he did.

Another trend growing in popularity is the cross-sport prop bets. That’s when a stat is taken from another sport in a different game being played either on the day of the Super Bowl or close to it is put up against a stat from the Super Bowl.

For example: Will the Orlando Magic score more points against Boston Sunday than Demaryius Thomas will have receiving yards against Seattle?

"Most of the Super Bowl betting, 70 percent to 80 percent including prop bets, will take place on Super Bowl weekend," Kornegay said. "We have seen usual betting patterns so far. Most of the action/tickets have been on the Broncos but we expect some bigger Seattle money later."


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