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If Las Vegas betting is any indication of the Super Bowl outcome, the Carolina Panthers should be perfecting their end zone dance. As Super Bowl week kicks off, Las Vegas wagering experts say the money is overwhelmingly coming in on the Panthers, who are currently six point favorites to win Super Bowl 50.
"This year is really rare in that nobody is betting on the Broncos. For whatever reason, we just don't seem to see any money coming in on Denver, and floods of money coming in on the Carolina Panthers," said Matt Holt, sports wagering expert with the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Race and Sports Book and CG Technology.
So, how accurate is Las Vegas in predicting a winner? Through the first 49 Super Bowls, the favorites have won the big game 33 of 49 times, or 67 percent. Not a sure thing, but not bad odds either.
Prior to the season's start, Denver had a high probability of being in the Super Bowl. The Panthers, on the other hand, were considered a long shot, with 60 to 1 odds of playing in football's biggest game of the year.
The Super Bowl is a familiar road in Denver (it's the team's 8th appearance), but the Panthers have played in only one other Super Bowl, losing in 2004 in the final seconds to the New England Patriots.
"Even as the season progressed and the Panthers were 5-, 6-, 7-and-0, it took longer than expected for bettors to get on board and start believing in this Panthers team," said Holt.
Today, the Panthers aren't only the favorites, but Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton is also topping bets to be the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.
The Super Bowl is the most gambled upon sporting event of the year. Experts predict the state of Nevada will take in between $115 million and $130 million worth of wagers. The American Gaming Association says Americans in total will bet $4.2 billion on the Super Bowl, an 8 percent increase over last year.
"Just like football, sports betting has never been more popular than it is today," Jeff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association.
Holt said the only event that can compare to the Super Bowl in terms of the number of tickets written and number of participants would be March Madness, which is of course many college basketball games staged over many days.
As more than 114 million fans tuned in for television's biggest day of the year last year, so-called proposition or "prop" bets have become increasingly popular. Fans can bet on everything from the coin flip to the color of Gatorade that will be dumped on the winning coach. Experts say prop bets now make up more than half of the total dollars wagered on the game.
In terms of match-ups, Holt said this is one of the best games imaginable from a wagering standpoint.
"Outside of the New England Patriots being in the Super Bowl, and revenge (for) deflategate, I don't think we could have gotten a better Super Bowl with the Broncos and Panthers," he said.