Rally by Mahomes, Chiefs Fuels Comeback for Sportsbooks

February 13, 2023

LAS VEGAS — When Patrick Mahomes rallied the Kansas City Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory Sunday night, he also led a comeback for the sportsbooks.

Kansas City’s 38-35 win over Philadelphia meant the books were winners on the betting line, which generally favored the Eagles by 1 1/2 points and drew plenty of wagering on the NFC champions. That victory by the sportsbooks offset a loss on the total, which was 51 1/2 points at many places and hit hard by bets on the over.

“Best case was Chiefs and under,” texted Chuck Esposito, sportsbook director for Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas.

Jason Scott, BetMGM vice president of trading, expects the national handle on the Super Bowl to set a record simply because sports betting is legal in many more states. Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports operations at Westgate Las Vegas, expects the handle to be the highest, but probably will come in below expectations.

When it comes to the Super Bowl, expectations are relative because the sportsbooks know there will be a massive amount of money bet regardless.

Caesars Sportsbook tweeted that it took $2.2 million in New York on the Eagles to cover the 1 1/2-point spread. The bettor probably had a good feeling when Philadelphia led 24-14 at halftime.

The feeling was not so good at the books, which was envisioning the double whammy of an Eagles win and the total going over. Mahomes limping into halftime on an injured ankle didn’t exactly ease those concerns.

“We weren’t too thrilled at the break,” Kornegay said.

At that point, he added, betting favorite Travis Kelce was cashing in by delivering on the wagers. The Chiefs tight end had three catches for 60 yards at halftime, and his touchdown paid off on a plus-230 proposition bet, meaning a $100 wager would be worth $230.

“It looked like he was going to have 15 catches in the game,” Kornegay said. “I’ve got to give credit to Coach (Andy) Reid and Mahomes for making that type of comeback and scoring that many points in the second half without involving Kelce. Kelce really disappeared in the second half. I mean, most people in this room couldn’t name two receivers for Kansas City.”

Kelce caught three passes in the second half for 21 yards.

The public won on the props at different books that paid off on the Eagles’ successful 2-point conversion and the Chiefs’ defensive score. Esposito said, however, enough of the props bets went Red Rock’s way to make his casino a “small winner” in that area.

Kornegay and Scott said their lines remained at 1 1/2 because there wasn’t a surge on Chiefs betting to move the line. Circa Sports in Las Vegas closed at Philadelphia at minus-1 after it did attract some notable Kansas City action, according to Circa sports marketing manager Aaron Oster.

The sportsbooks, however, couldn’t make the total high enough, and it was clear early this game had the makings of an offensive slugfest.

“The totals market will actually be the most money we’ve ever lost on one market,” Scott said.

If not for the rally by Mahomes and the Chiefs, BetMGM and many other books would have had a much tougher day. Mahomes was named the regular-season and Super Bowl MVP, and he was especially valuable to the books.

“Was a very nice day,” Scott said. “Patrick Mahomes saved us.”

This year’s Super Bowl was the first played in a stadium with a sportsbook inside the venue.

Next year’s big game will be in Las Vegas.

“We are going to be the football capital of the world next year,” Kornegay said. “There are so many venues outside of Allegiant (Stadium) that fans can enjoy. I don’t know any other city that has that many hotel rooms and all these different venues of where they can enjoy the game.

“So I suspect that we’re going to see record numbers across the board come next February.”



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