A bettor using his phone app made a $1.1 million wager on the Falcons plus 3 points Friday at CG Technology, and a string of six-figure bets were placed on the Patriots at Wynn Las Vegas on Saturday as a wave of big money poured into Las Vegas sports books in advance of Super Sunday.
“I’ve seen more six-figure bets before the Sunday of the game than in previous years,” Wynn sports book director Johnny Avello said. “(Saturday) there were quite a few, and Friday there were some. Even over the past 10 days. I’d say 70 percent of them are on the Pats.”
Avello said he’s taken wagers of $300,000 and $200,000 on New England and “a lot” of $100,000 bets and said the action for Super Bowl LI is comparable to last year’s title game, which produced a record Nevada betting handle of $132.5 million.
“Last year was a record year, and this year feels a lot like it,” he said. “If the first 13 days of action are any indication of what (Sunday) will bring, it’s very possible we’ll see another record broken.”
CG Technology sports book director Jason Simbal said his handle is ahead of last year’s pace. To help offset the $1.1 million bet on the Falcons, he’s also taken a $200,000 wager on the Patriots, who accounted for 60 percent of the action Saturday.
“We took a lot of big bets on the Falcons the last couple days, but (Saturday) was mostly New England,” he said. “It’s still pretty even, but because of those huge Falcons bets, we actually need the Pats right now. I think that’s going to change, but as of right now, the Falcons winning outright and over would be the worst for us.”
Despite the seven-figure bet on Atlanta, the line has remained at Patriots minus-3, where it has been since it was posted early in the fourth quarter of the AFC title game.
“I don’t see us going to 3½ at all,” Simbal said. “I’d be surprised if we moved off of this number.”
The Super Bowl record-high total of 59 also was locked in for most of the past two weeks before several books dropped the number to 58½ on Saturday.
“All week, it had been Patriots and over and, to some degree, Falcons and over, so we were kind of buried on the over. Up until (Friday) night,” Boyd Gaming sports book director Bob Scucci said. “Not only did we get straight bets on the under, but people parlayed the Falcons to the under. We were getting a lot more under money than we had seen the previous two weeks.”
Will there be a safety? In keeping with tradition, Simbal and Scucci said the ‘Yes’ (6-1) again has been the most popular Super Bowl prop bet.
“Everyone that comes in and wants to win a little money will put $100 that there will be a safety at 5-1 or 6-1,” Scucci said. “Once the number goes down, the sharp guys will come in and lay the minus-700 or (minus-) 800 that there won’t be a safety.”
Americans will bet an estimated $4.7 billion on Sunday’s game, an increase of 11 percent from last year, according to the American Gaming Association. An estimated 97 percent of the money will be wagered illegally.
For many bettors, the opening coin toss will be a big decision.
“I’m shocked that the coin toss, people just love ‘Heads,’” Scucci said. “The ticket count and ratio is almost 4-1 for what’s basically an even-money proposition.”
The only 3½ in Las Vegas as of Saturday night was at the TI, where the Patriots are minus-3½ (plus-120) and the Falcons are plus-3½ (minus-140).
“There’s still a group of sophisticated bettors who really haven’t weighed in yet,” Scucci said. “If they come in (Sunday) right before game time on the Patriots, I could see it moving off of (3) right before game time. But I think that’s a really remote possibility.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.