No more than five minutes after the New York Giants beat the San Francisco 49ers to win the National Football Conference championship on Jan. 22, the Giants were established by Las Vegas bookmakers as 3½-point underdogs to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
The two-week build-up to football’s biggest game —kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 ET on NBC—had only just kicked off for Jay Kornegay, who runs the sports book at the LVH Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, which used to be known as the Las Vegas Hilton. He learned a long time ago that people like to bet on more than a point spread.
Kornegay is widely regarded as the king of Super Bowl proposition bets, “prop bets" for short. He went to work establishing an astonishing list of about 350 betting lines on smaller outcomes to be determined in the big game, down to the pregame coin flip. (Heads and tails are even money.)
Besides being America’s most-watched game, the Super Bowl is also America’s most-wagered-upon game. According to the Nevada Gaming Commission, $87.5 million was wagered at the state’s 183 sports books last year on Super Bowl XLV, won by Green Bay. Kornegay estimates that prop bets accounted for up to half that total.
“You see people at Super Bowl parties holding one ticket on the game and six tickets with prop bets,” Kornegay says. “We have a couple of guys, who, every year, bet on every single prop. When you have hundreds of them, that can really add up.”
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