Celebrity “props,” or proposition bets, add an element of fun to gambling on the Super Bowl. If desired, we get to wager on Lady Gaga’s stage outfits (all dozen of them) and on various elements of the pregame show and TV broadcast.
But those props are just the window dressing, the icing on the cake. Super Bowl player props are the real thing, a chance for handicappers and pundits to pour over stat sheets and game-plan speculation looking for that can’t-miss market.
Now, the NFL is trying to make them illegal.
The league’s rationale? Player props make athletes vulnerable to match-fixing attempts, since the outcomes of many prop markets have an affect on the outcome of the final score. With the Federal government moving to take over legal sports gambling in the United States, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for The Shield to demand action from Uncle Sam to ban all player props…not just for the Super Bowl.
True to form, the league is attempting to ankle-bite a newly legalized industry. Prop betting does not add up to enough money to make it worthwhile for criminals to try to fix the lines by bribing already-rich athletes and coaches. “I’ve never seen anyone take a half million dollars on a prop,” says Westgate Sportsbook VP Jay Kornegay. “The reality is that books’ limits on props are very low. We only accept $2,000 on our props. It’s very unlikely a bookmaker would take a large wager on a proposition.”
One can imagine the NFL making some headway with the NFLPA on joint litigation to get National Football League players names banned from use by betting sites, at least for individual-game and season-performance markets.
However, clever oddsmakers would simply work-around the limitation by posting props like, “Will the Likely Starting QB for the New England Patriots Pass for 300+ yards in the Super Bowl?”
Tom Brady is 99.99% assured of starting for the Patriots in Atlanta, so the above proposition would work out exactly the same as a Super Bowl “Tom Brady Prop” from the perspective of sportsbooks and their clients.
Hopefully in the end the NFL, Las Vegas and U.S. Congress will stop attacking each other’s ankles in court. There’s already enough ankle injuries for sports gamblers to deal with.