Thoroughbred racebooks allow the betting action to drive the odds. If bettors want to wager on a snail to win the Belmont Stakes, the bookie is happy to take their money and shorten the line. But in other sports, betting sites are known to occasionally hold stubbornly to a house handicap regardless of where the action goes.
BetOnline, a giant of online sports gambling, has been taking action on the New England Patriots’ side of the point spread for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. How much action? Currently favored by (-2) points, the Pats are taking a stunning 85% of the sportsbook’s ATS wagers on the Super Bowl.
The point spread did move a little bit on Monday, going from a nominal opening lean toward the Los Angeles Rams, currently a (+2) underdog, to a slight “-“ edge for the Patriots. But the bookmaker stepped in to contain line movement to less than a FG margin as of approximately 48 hours in, believing that the Rams are being undervalued.
If the Rams win the Super Bowl on February 3rd, or lose by a point, then BetOnline will only owe returns on 15% of its collected action on the spread. But if the Patriots win by 3 points or more, then the betting site will owe 85% of point spread gamblers their winnings.
Casual bettors are probably thinking that Tom Brady, an institution at Super Bowls and AFC Championship Games at this point, will out-play his counterpart Jared Goff, the starting quarterback for the Rams. But there are many other factors that can affect the outcome of an NFL game.
In an ironic touch, the sports junkies at BetOnline had previously found themselves rooting against Sean McVay’s L.A. Rams this season.
Action had leaned heavily toward the Mountain Goats in “futures,” or bets to win Super Bowl LIII taken before the playoffs began. When the Rams began winning postseason games despite an unexpected swoon from star running back Todd Gurley, the sportsbook was in danger of having to pay off those bets at 10-to-1 or longer odds.
The Super Bowl’s action outweighs all other markets, though, and the specter of a potential “surprise” Los Angeles win or 1-point loss (with less than 2-in-10 gamblers cashing-in on the point spread) has the same odds-managers now cheering for Goff in Atlanta.
“Our position and liability on the Patriots is growing minute by minute,” says Dave Mason, a brand manager at BetOnline. “Although we did take quite a bit (of action) on (the) Rams early on in the season, to win the Super Bowl, it does not matter at this point, as over 85% of money is on (the) Patriots, and we do not see it stopping.”
“I can only imagine how big this will be.”