Super Bowl LIII Action Report: Late Rams Money Will Impact Line Movement
The kickoff to Super Bowl LIII is almost here. While most sportsbooks are still seeing a lopsided ticket count on the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams money is starting to trickle in.
Will there be a late rush of Rams action or will bettors continue to hammer the Patriots? We spoke to oddsmakers in Las Vegas and New Jersey to find out where they expect the money to come and line to move leading up to kickoff.
Books are still expecting Rams money to come in over the weekend but there’s no denying both the sharps and public were all over the Patriots early. The sharps hit the Patriots right away when the Rams opened -1 at most shops. They bet the Patriots up to -2.5 but the big bettors have been quiet since.
The public has been all over New England since the line opened and that’s expected to continue right up until kickoff.
Sharps took advantage of opening number
The reason why sharps hit the Patriots early is because of the opening line. Experiences bettors jumped at the chance to take New England as an underdog or slight favorite.
“I think the sharps only took the Patriots early because they felt the number was off and it probably was,” said Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management at CG Technology. “We opened it Rams -1 and the sharps took the Patriots all the way to -1.5. Since it’s been at 2.5, the sharps haven’t bet it.”
It’s not common to see one team bet so heavily in a game the magnitude of the Super Bowl. It’s even less common to see the sharps and public on the same side, but that was the case early on with the Patriots.
“I don’t remember a time where both the sharps and public were all so heavily on the same side like this” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill. “It’s wild because here’s a game that was close to pick where you think the opinions will be split. It was a little bizarre to be honest.”
The scenario reminds Simbal of another recent Super Bowl where one team got all the money, only in that case, the sharps and public were on opposite sides.
“When the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos in Super Bowl 48 was kind of similar,” said Simbal. “In that one everyone was on the Broncos. It was super lopsided…It reminds of that game with the public. The one thing that’s different though is the sharps were all over the Seahawks but they haven’t really bet the Rams here.”
Most Super Bowl bets still to come
It should be noted that sportsbooks take roughly 80 percent of their action on the Super Bowl 48 hours before kickoff. Even though the Patriots are being bet heavily, a majority of Super Bowl wagers are still to come.
“We’ll see 80 percent of our action this weekend for sure,” said Tony Miller, sportsbook director at the Golden Nugget. “This is the quiet before the storm. It’s all public money right now. I think sharp money is sitting back waiting to see what happens with this line.”
The consensus line in Las Vegas was still 2.5 as of Friday. All the books we spoke to said they are still waiting on large wagers from their sharpest bettors and that will decide where the line moves.
It was reported on Thursday that the MGM took a $2 million bet on the Super Bowl. That was the first known seven-figure bet taken on the game in Las Vegas.
Other books expect the big bets to come this weekend.
“We haven’t taken anything huge yet,” Simbal said. “We’ve taken a bunch of five-figure bets and they’re all on the Patriots. Typically, the bigger bets tend to come in on Saturday or Sunday. A lot of times if we’re looking at a big one in the million-dollar range, someone would have reached out to inquire by now. It doesn’t mean it won’t, just hasn’t happened yet.”
Books try to ignite Rams action
The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas moved the line to -3 (-120) on Tuesday and while Rams money is starting to come in at that number, all the big bets were still on the Patriots from early sharp action.
“We’ve taken four or five big bets but it’s all been on the Patriots,” said Miller. “We took two very large bets on opening night. We got nothing significant on the Rams whatsoever. The biggest bet I got so far on the Rams is probably $15,000 but we expect more action this weekend.”
Besides the Golden Nugget, William Hill was the other shop sitting at -3 in Las Vegas Friday. William Hill went to -3 (-110) last Saturday. The juice moved to -120 on Tuesday but William Hill stayed -3 all week.
The early switch to -3 worked for William Hill. It’s the one book that’s reported money split 50/50 on the game. It also helped to encourage larger wagers on the Rams.
One bettor placed $132,000 on the Rams +3, $132,000 on the over 56.5 and a $132,000 6-point teaser on Rams and over. Then on Friday afternoon, a bettor put $1.5 million on the Rams moneyline, making it the second seven-figure wager taken on the Super Bowl. The bet will pay out $1.8 million if the Rams win.
“At the lower numbers it was all Patriots,” said Bogdanovich. “We needed to get to a number where we might write some two-way action. We went to -3 flat and it was all Rams money. At that number it’s been more two-way money. We feel three is the right line for this game unless we get a big bet to get us off that number.”
They got it. Following the $1.5 million wager on the Rams moneyline, William Hill moved the number back to 2.5 Friday afternoon.
FanDuel happy to take Pats bets
While William Hill has been holding steady at -3, it’s a different story at FanDuel sportsbook in New Jersey. FanDuel is one of the few places where the line is -2. While that has generated strong support for the Patriots, the line hasn’t moved off that number.
John Sheeran, risk manager for FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands, said his book is happy to have all the Patriots exposure it can get.
“Our view is the line is a little bit lopsided because the public is on New England,” said Sheeran. “We’re holding at -2 on the Patriots and we’ll likely keep that position right through kickoff just because we believe the line should be closer to pick rather than having New England favored. As a result of that, we are seeing a heavy bias to New England but that’s a position we’re happy to be in.
“The bet count is starting to get closer though. We have about 65 percent of bets on New England but all the big bets we’re seeing are still on the Patriots. We haven’t taken any sizable bets on the Rams yet. There’s a clear bias here for the East Coast team.”
Like other books, Sheeran expects the bigger Super Bowl bets to come in Saturday and Sunday. As of Friday, the largest bet placed at FanDuel was five figures on the Patriots.
“Our biggest bet so far is $65,000 on the Patriots moneyline,” said Sheeran. “I’d expect that to be a fraction of the biggest bet we get come kickoff though…I’d be very surprised if we don’t have a bet close to $500,000 by the time kickoff comes.”
Move to -3 could lead to disaster for some books
The books we spoke to said Rams money is starting to come in slowly but surely. The question is whether or not the number will get to -3 at a majority of shops before kickoff. It’s not likely.
Because books already have so much liability on the Patriots, it would be risky to move the number to three and take a bunch of large wagers on the Rams. A Patriots three-point win would end up being a disaster for casinos. Most places said if the line doesn’t go to -3 by Saturday, it probably won’t get there.
“If we went to -3 the sharps would take the Rams but I don’t think we’re going to do it,” said Simbal. “We would probably be more inclined to go -2.5 (-120) if we have to as opposed to -3 because we’ve taken so much money on the Patriots already. The risk is if you go to three and take six figures on Rams bets, if the Patriots win by three, you’re in big trouble.”
Late Rams money will dictate line movement
The deciding factor on where the line will move is going to come down to Rams bettors. Books in Las Vegas are expecting a large influx of Los Angeles residents to hit the strip this weekend, eager to bet on the hometown Rams. How many of those bettors come to town and how much they wager on the Rams is something to watch over the final 48 hours.
“Earlier in the week 80 percent of the bets on the spread where on the Patriots. It’s down to 70 percent,” said Simbal. “I don’t think it will come in droves but from here on out we’re going to get Pats and Rams money. Especially when the LA tourists come in. Eighty percent of our customers are from LA or Nevada, so I imagine a lot of those people will be betting the Rams.”
At some books, so much Patriots money has already come in, they’ll need to see significant Rams action over the final two days to limit liability on New England. The bottom line is with the sharp and public bettors both backing the Patriots early, books need a late wave of large Rams bets to even things out.
If that wave doesn’t come, a majority of sportsbooks in Las Vegas and New Jersey will be heavily invested in the Rams Sunday.
“From the night we opened it up, it’s been all Patriots,” said Miller. “It’s been non-stop. All my bigger bets so far have been all on the Patriots. I got kibbles and bits on the Rams. Everyone keeps saying that by the weekend Rams money will be coming in. Well, we’re going to need a lot of it soon to even things out.”