Updated February 1, 2020 - 5:01 pm
The length of the national anthem. Gatorade color. Halftime show cleavage.
Every year, Westgate sportsbook vice president Jay Kornegay is asked about the odds on unusual Super Bowl props, and every year he tells bettors they’re not offered in Las Vegas.
“I even have family and friends ask me those questions every year,” he said. “There’s a little confusion out there because there are books in this world that are allowed to post those types of props. But in Nevada we’re restricted to basically the field of play.
“To be honest, I don’t have a problem with those restrictions. I wouldn’t want to take any of those types of wagers that someone might have knowledge of the result, whether they’re mixing the Gatorade or at the halftime show rehearsal.”
Nevada books must request approval from the state’s Gaming Control Board to accept wagers on nontraditional events such as the Heisman Trophy, NFL draft props and Super Bowl MVP, all of which have been approved in recent years.
“I always thought we should be able to accept wagers on the Super Bowl MVP,” Kornegay said. “That was the big one, and they changed that, which was a good decision.”
Kornegay has no desire to add the halftime show or national anthem, which doesn’t have an official timed result, to the Westgate’s extensive Super Bowl prop menu that already features more than 1,000 ways to bet the game. But he would like to take wagers on other popular nonsporting events.
And the Oscar goes to …
“There’s a lot of hype around the Academy Awards. As long as we stop betting once they start counting the votes, I don’t have a problem with it,” Kornegay said. “Certain things like that we just have to work on as an industry.”
The Gaming Control Board hasn’t received a request to take wagers on the Oscars since 2012, when it was denied, according to control board research analyst Michael Lawton.
“I’ve asked for it before (in Nevada),” said DraftKings sportsbook director Johnny Avello, formerly of Wynn Las Vegas. “It came down to try to get them all the information on how the results are compiled, which is very difficult to do.
“When it comes to awards shows, Nevada hasn’t been that aggressive.”
New Jersey books are taking action on the Academy Awards for the second consecutive year, and Indiana also is taking bets on the Feb. 9 show.
“We had a lot of new users that we never had before to gamble on the Oscars,” Avello said.
Bettors loaded up on several Oscars nominees last year as if they knew the result in advance, causing some books to take the odds off the board.
“The rumor last year was that the cat was out of the bag on three of them. They bet those three, but all three lost,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “I don’t have a problem with the Academy Awards. Things like that, you book small (limits) and move (lines) fast. But it’s worth it when you factor in it gets a lot of attention and gets people to the book.”
The Westgate inquired with the Gaming Control Board about taking bets on the “Jeopardy! G.O.A.T.” tournament that aired in January, but missed the deadline to make a request at least 30 days before the event airs or is taped.
“We’ve got to stay away from those tournaments that are filmed weeks ahead or ‘The Bachelor,’ which is filmed months ahead, because the outcome is already known by others, whereas the Oscars is going to be live. We’re all going to see it at the same time,” Avello said.
Kornegay and Bogdanovich said the event that would generate the most betting action, by far, is the U.S. presidential election, which is offered at European books.
“The election would be fantastic,” Bogdanovich said. “2016 was about as big as it could get. It would’ve outdone the Super Bowl.”
“There’s a lot more people that have an opinion on the election than the Super Bowl,” he said. “There’s always been a regulation against any type of political election. The thinking was that they didn’t want us to influence votes by putting odds up.
“Personally, I wouldn’t have any issues with taking bets on the presidential election. It’s so big it would be very difficult to influence the outcome.
“Sooner or later, someone’s going to legalize betting on the presidential election in their state, and it could kind of snowball from there.”