If you're like most Super Bowl bettors and you think the Carolina Panthers will walk away from the game as champs, we hope you already made a wager.
When sports books began accepting Super Bowl bets on Sunday night, after it was determined that the Panthers would face the Denver Broncos in the big game, the point spread was generally 3.5 to 4.5 points, with the Panthers as favorites. Reports say that nearly 9 out of 10 early bettors took the Panthers. To some extent, the public's preference for Carolina isn't surprising given the team's dominating performance leading up to the Super Bowl.
“The public always supports the team that performed better during the championship game,” Jay Kornegay, vice president of the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, explained to the New York Post. “Since Carolina blew out Arizona, no doubt the public is on the Panthers.”
As of Monday, "86% of the point spread wagers (total dollars) at our 104 Nevada Sports Books and on our app have been on the Panthers to cover," or win by more than the spread, said Michael Grodsky, director of marketing for the William Hill sports book, according to NJ.com.
This kind of one-sided action gets sports books nervous, as they could lose their shirts if the vast majority of bets pay off. So, naturally, in order to entice more gamblers to place wagers on the Broncos, the point spread has shifted. ESPN reported that as of Wednesday, the consensus line was up to 5 points, and many expect it to inch up to 5.5 or 6 points very soon. (In other words, if the spread is 6 points, the Panthers would have to win by more than 6 points for a bet on the Panthers to pay off.)
"The public is clearly enamored with the supposed mismatch of Cam Newton over Peyton Manning," Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill, told ESPN in an email. "[Nearly] every ticket is on Carolina and it doesn't show any signs of slowing up."
While the sheer number of bets on the Panthers may outnumber those picking the Broncos, most of the wagers will be small ones, made by casual gamblers. As the point spread grows, however, professional gamblers who see the significance of the shifting betting line are more likely to be drawn in and place big-time bets that it'll be a close enough game for the Broncos to cover—that is, lose by less than the spread—if not outright win the game.
"It looks like any Denver money is going to have to come from the professionals,” Bogdanovich, of William Hill, told the sports betting site Covers.com.
Still, if you're thinking of betting on the Broncos to cover the spread, the consensus seems to be that it can't hurt to wait. The spread will only grow and make it easier for the Broncos to cover, people seem to think. On the other hand, if you're picking the Panthers, it would be great if you could hop in a DeLorean and travel back in time to place your bet on Monday.