More was not merrier for New Jersey’s legal, regulated sportsbooks on Super Bowl Sunday.
The amount wagered on the game, per the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, was $54.3 million — an increase of more than 50% from the $34.8 million bet on the previous Super Bowl.
But for the second straight year, New Jersey’s sportsbooks lost money on the Super Bowl. Sunday’s 31-20 win by Kansas City over San Francisco resulted in a $4.3 million loss, for a negative “hold” of 7.8%.
Last year, the books lost $4.5mm on the New England win over the Los Angeles Rams — even more of a beating, percentage-wise.
There is a certain irony here, given that the only reason any state outside of Nevada can offer full-scale sports betting is because New Jersey residents in 2011 voted in a statewide referendum to defy the federal ban, and then bankrolled a six-year legal battle that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the state’s favor in 2018.
Not all sportsbooks lost
Patrick Eichner, communications director for Australian-based sports betting operator PointsBet, said that in New Jersey it was an “overall positive result” for his company.
“We won on the key markets of moneyline — late 49ers action swung that one — and total — public spent two weeks pounding the over, and sharp under money didn’t get involved until game day,” Eichner said.
So after more than a week of heavy wagering on the Chiefs, the last-minute sentiment for the 49ers helped the sportsbooks. And the late money going “under” a line that varied from about 52-54 points wasn’t enough to cause the books to lose on that front.
Eichner added that each quarterback was so heavily favored as an MVP that “we actually needed a quarterback to win. The short odds were prohibitive for most casual bettors, so [Patrick] Mahomes, who closed near even money, was ideal.”
Breaking even on a bad beat
As far as prop bets, Eichner said that the public’s biggest winners were “tails” on the coin flip and Mahomes to score the first touchdown — the latter at 22/1 odds.
One of the most significant bets was on Mahomes to accumulate more than 30.5 rushing yards. It was a winner until the final seconds, when Mahomes lost 15 yards on three kneel-downs to secure the victory.
PointsBet has a “Karma Kommittee” that meets to discuss such odd results, and it refunded the money of any bettor who had Mahomes over 30.5 yards.
The betting public won on “over 1.5 field goals” for the 49ers, as well.
And one PointsBet player hit three college basketball games on a 4-pick parlay, then needed and got a late Chiefs rally to turn a $3,900 bet into $74,200.
“In terms of futures, San Francisco would’ve been a better result, but our overall futures book was a winner for the season,” Eichner added of preseason wagers on who would win the Super Bowl.
And don’t feel too sorry for the sportbooks, either in New Jersey or in neighboring Pennsylvania, where seven-figure losses were also reported. Much of the overall loss came from alluring sign-up promotions and other enticements that have now landed those books’ apps in the smartphones of new players.
In the long run, the house (almost) always wins.
Photo by Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports