Perhaps more improbable than Tom Brady leaving New England after 20 years and leading Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl title in his first season there was the manner in which the Buccaneers beat the Chiefs.
Tampa Bay, which closed as a 3-point underdog and +140 on the money line, dominated defending champion Kansas City in a stunning 31-9 upset. The Bucs’ defense kept the explosive Chiefs out of the end zone while picking off Patrick Mahomes twice and sacking him three times.
“I think the whole world was surprised,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said. “I thought 3 or 3½ was a good number for the game, so I’m shocked it turned out that way.”
Brady, 43, threw three first-half touchdown passes en route to his seventh Super Bowl victory and fifth Super Bowl MVP award.
“It’s an amazing story,” Andrews said. “I know a lot of numbers guys will tell you maybe Brady isn’t all that good. But he brings out the best in everyone around him. You cannot deny that.”
Big win for books
Las Vegas sportsbooks won big on the game as the Westgate, William Hill, Circa, Station Casinos, South Point and the Golden Nugget each reported solid wins, thanks in large part to the game staying under the closing total of 55½.
“It was a very good day for us,” Westgate sportsbook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “Out of the four main categories, we had a positive number on the spread, the total and the props. The only negative number we had was on the actual money line. I’d take that every Super Bowl.
“It was unfortunate that it was a lopsided, boring game. But at least people that were in gaming jurisdictions had a lot of action on props that were still hanging in the balance late in the game.”
One long shot prop that hit was no Chiefs touchdown, which was at 60-1 at William Hill and 50-1 at the Westgate. But both books did well on that prop.
“I was shocked. I thought we’d get killed on it,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said.
Bettors cash in on Gronk
One prop that the books did take a bath on was Rob Gronkowski to score the first touchdown, which paid 16-1 at the Westgate. Bogdanovich said William Hill lost six figures on it when the tight end hauled in an 8-yard TD pass from Brady to give Tampa a 7-3 lead with 37 seconds left in the first quarter.
Brady’s first TD in the first quarter of his 10 Super Bowl appearances also was worth $220,000 to a BetMGM bettor that wagered $275,000 on the Bucs +½ point in the first quarter (-125).
Tampa didn’t relinquish the lead after that. Books also won on the halftime line (K.C. -7½) and in-play wagering as bettors wagered on the Chiefs to rally from a 21-6 halftime deficit.
“We thought we were going to get more Chiefs money, but they were getting dominated so badly, there wasn’t a lot of support there,” Kornegay said.
A late flurry of six-figure and seven-figure bets were placed on the game at Las Vegas sportsbooks. BetMGM took a $2.5 million money-line bet on the Chiefs (-165) on Sunday and a $1 million two-team teaser on the Bucs +9 and over 50. It also took a $2.3 million straight bet to win $2 million on Tampa +3½ (-115) and a $1 million money-line bet on the Bucs to win $1.35 million (+135).
William Hill took a $1.16 million money-line wager on the Chiefs (-155) on Sunday. The Westgate took two bets totaling $635,000 on K.C. on Sunday.
“We thought the handle was going to be anywhere from 30 to 40 percent down from last year but, surprisingly, the handle is equal to what we saw last year,” Kornegay said. “In fact, it might surpass last year.”
Bogdanovich was astonished that William Hill took six figures on each side of the coin toss prop. Heads was the winner.
“It’s incredible. The heads and tails prop never ceases to amaze me, and it was dead even,” he said. “Every year, I just scratch my head. People just love betting that prop.”