Betting on the big game

DOVER — Heads or tails?

Who punts first — Patriots or Rams?

How about the first team to commit an accepted penalty?

All those wagers and many more are available to put money on prior to today’s Super Bowl.

The Delaware Sports Lottery added a few dozen Las Vegas-style single-bet risks for the final contest, and the state, casinos and retailers profited greatly overall this season.

Unlike the state’s $354,500 loss after local loyalists cashed in on the Eagles long-awaited Lombardi Trophy win last season, a profit is coming this way no matter if Los Angeles or New England prevails.

Fans put money on the future champion at varying odds this season and now only two remain — a Rams win brings $164,300 to the state, while a $151,500 profit arrives if the Patriots win it all.

This season $409,300 were placed on futures bets. The Patriots preseason odds opened at 7 to 1 and were 5 to 1 by Jan. 8. The Rams were 12 to 1 early, which dropped to 5 to 1. The Browns were the biggest longshot 125 to 1 to open.

Throughout the season, sports favorites covered the spread more often than not, and Delaware’s three casinos kept 11.8 percent of all money bet. Retailers – selling parlay wagers only – sold $30.6 million and kept 12 million (39.4 percent).

Combined with the state, the house kept $22.7 million of the $121.1 million in sales (18.7 percent hold). The state’s overall profit as of Thursday was $11.75 million.

“That’s a tremendous hold,” Delaware Lottery Director Vernon Kirk said this week. “This season has been fantastic for the state and retailers.”

It could get much better — typically 50 percent of all money bet on the Super Bowl (excluding futures) is bet on Sunday gameday.

Retailers win big

Taking a quick break at Mike’s Food Mart in Dover late Thursday morning, Jack Patel agreed that sports bets kept clerks extremely busy the past several months.

“It’s not as much now that the parlays are done, but before that a lot of people were coming in,” he said. “A good number of them would play the lottery while getting their gas, cigarettes and soda at the same time.”

At Cheswold News and Tobacco, sales increased by 30 percent in its second year of sports lottery action.

“We picked up 40 to 50 customers that we didn’t have before,” Curtis Knight said while processing customer’s lottery purchases early Thursday afternoon.

“Most of that was because people realized they could do off the board betting and it spread by word of mouth as well.”

Mr. Knight said proposition bets were less than he suspected and customers “maybe thought it was a little too gimmicky.”

Overall, though, Mr. Knight said taking part has been a business booster.

“(The sports betting) helps us with small sales such as chips, sodas, candy bars, those kind of items” he said.

Super Bowl approaches

As the Super Bowl approached, money was going on the Patriots at a 16 to 5 rate.

While Delaware offers 53 proposition bets this season, that’s still far less than in Las Vegas. Out west, it’s possible to mix sports as in a three-wager parlay could include megastars Tom Brady, LeBron James and Tiger Woods performances in the same bet.

“We’re not there yet on that,” Mr. Kirk said.

Dover Downs Hotel and Casino Sports Betting General Manager John Hensley said the phone has been ringing more this week, with callers wanting to learn more how the sportsbook works.

“We’re nine years in and some folks are still finding out about us,” Mr. Hensley.

Regardless, the casino expects a large crowd as betting begins at 9 a.m. Sunday. There’s also three hockey, 15 basketball and horse racing simulcasts to wager on, though they’ll all conclude earlier than usual.

“Nobody wants to compete with the Super Bowl,” Mr. Hensley said. “It’s the busiest day of the year in Vegas, so we expect the same here.

“There’s really nothing that compares to it.”

Twenty-plus tables at the sportsbook were already reserved by Thursday.

“There’s a buzz in here, you can just see the excitement building,” said Mr. Hensley. “There are faces we haven’t seen before coming in.”

The four dozen-plus proposition bets came in six-page packets placed in the card rack inside the sports book.

While Dover Downs has taken parlay bets for several years now, single game bets and propositions can now be made Sunday.

“Extra staff will be here, we plan to be ready for anything,” Mr. Hensley said.

Outsiders learn more

After nine years, Delaware’s lottery success has garnered plenty of out of state attention and growing competition. Rhode Island officials spend a few days in the First State learning about operations, and opened up sports wagering in a couple casinos last month.

“They were here to observe, see how the operation runs, pick our brains a little bit,” Mr. Kirk said.

According to the American Gaming Association, 15 states have active or pre-filed bills to legalize sports betting in their jurisdictions and an additional dozen states are likely to consider sports betting legislation in 2019.

“The results of this research are overwhelmingly clear: consumers want legal sports betting, they believe it should be regulated by state and tribal governments and they don’t think the leagues should get a cut,” said Sara Slane, senior vice president of the American Gaming Association, in a news release.

“This weekend, 23 million Americans will wager a staggering $6 billion on the Super Bowl. To put that in perspective, Americans will bet around the same amount on this one event as they bet legally in all of 2018.

Though wagering lagged during the NFL conference playoffs, business has been increasing noticeably with the Super Bowl nearing.

“Only the hardcore bettors tend to continue on as the playoff stakes increase and fewer teams remain, then everyone comes back and wants to have some soft of bet on the (pro football championship) game,” Mr. Kirk said.

The walkup crowd to the betting stations are expected to increase significantly until kickoff at 6:30 p.m.

“The casinos know what they’re doing and will staff accordingly, though (Sports Lottery) will have a presence whether it be informally or formally. They know it’s a big deal and they will keep the lines moving forward with as many tellers as possible available to take bets.”

Parlay Bets

Half point proposition parlay bets include:

Patriots -2.5, Rams +2.5

Over 57.5, under 57.5

Coin toss – heads or tails

Team to commit first accepted penalty

Will there be a score in first 5.5 minutes of game

First team to punt in game

Team to score longest touchdown

Total interceptions in game – over 1.5, under 1.5

Longest touchdown scored in game – over 49.5, under 49.5

Team with last possession in game

Total points scored by Patriots in game – odd number or even number

Total points scored by Rams in game – odd number or even number

PARLAY PAYOFFS

3 for 3 – pays 6.5 for 1

4 for 4 – 11 for 1

5 for 5 – 20 for 1

6 for 6 – 40 for 1

7 for 7 – 75 for 1

8 for 8 – 150 for 1

9 for 9 – 375 for 1

10 for 10 – 800 for 1

11 for 11 – 1,400 for 1

12 for 12 – 2,500 for 1

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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