The Super Bowl is America’s biggest betting event. Do your homework before placing a bet on the big game.
On the first Sunday of February, millions of people across the United States and worldwide will watch the Super Bowl. “The big game” is America’s most popular sporting event, but it’s much more than that.
• The underdog has won seven of the past ten Super Bowls
• Betting on the Super Bowl in America is illegal. But not really.
• Online sportsbooks in the UK are great for Super Bowl betting
It’s a national holiday, a celebration of all that is America: glitz, glamor, cheesy pop stars, million-dollar advertisements, glorious heaps of food.
The Super Bowl is also a festival of sports betting. In 2014 American wagered $119 million on Super Bowl XLVIII with Vegas sportsbooks, an all-time record. And that’s just the amount of money wagered legally. The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans bet $2.5 billion on the Super Bowl each year, most of which goes to offshore betting sites.
If you’re a seasoned Super Bowl bettor, you know the gig. But if you’re new to the game, there are some things you should know.
#1: Online betting is illegal. Sort of.
The reason the vast majority of money wagered on the Super Bowl (roughly 95 percent) goes offshore is because of restrictive American gambling laws. A tangled web of legislative acts—the Wire Act, Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act—mean that Nevada is nearly the only place where Americans can legally place bets.
PASPA bans sports betting everywhere except Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana—so basically everywhere except Nevada. The Wire Act and UIGEA team up to make internet betting in America illegal, including in Nevada.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t bet on the Super Bowl. It is illegal for someone to take a bet from you, but not for you to place one. So feel free to bet away! Most betting sites are accessible in English, and basically all accept US dollars.
Your bank or credit card company may not be willing to process the transaction (damn UIGEA!), but there’s a way around that. Open an e-wallet account with a service such as Paypal, Skrill, or Neteller. These middlemen allow you to place wagers on the Super Bowl, regardless of what your bank thinks.
#2: Choose a reputable online sportsbook
Internet betting in America is heavily restricted, but offshore sportsbooks are lining up for your business. Just be sure to choose a reputable bookie that offers you great odds, pristine customer service, and top-notch security.
As a general rule, the best internet bookmakers are based in Canada, the UK, Gibraltar, Malta, the Isle of Man, and Antigua. Some of the top online sportsbooks in the UK are Bet365 and BetVictor, and if you want to go the Canadian route, Bovada is the best in the business.
Before you make a deposit with any online bookie, be sure to read the terms and conditions. And hunt around for the best bonuses! Most high-quality betting sites offer bonuses and promos on Super Bowl bets.
#3: Bet on a few props
Most football bettors zero in on the line for the big game, but don’t sell yourself short. Proposition bets, or “props,” are tons of fun and can put a bit of extra money in your pocket.
Bookmakers write hundreds of props, ranging from the number of points that will be scored in a quarter to the color of Gatorade the winning team will pour on the coach’s head. During the run-up to Super Bowl XLVII, most bettors put their money on yellow.
Props are popular with casual bettors, but professional handicappers also love them. Why? It’s difficult for bookmakers to set odds favorable to the house, because there are so many variables going into them. A skilled handicapper can spot weak lines and exploit them for a big payday.
Props become more popular every year. Johnny Avello, director of sports betting at the Wynn Las Vegas, said that by 2012, 20 percent of the Wynn’s Super Bets were props. The Wynn offers between 150-200 props during each Super Bowl.
#4: Put your money on the underdog
A showdown between the NFL’s two best teams, the Super Bowl is almost always evenly matched, and it’s very difficult to predict the winner going in. The underdog has won the past three games. Last year the Seahawks won as +2.5 underdogs, the year before that the Ravens won at +4.5, and before that the Giants won at +2.5.
Overall, the underdog has won seven of the past ten meetings, including the Giants legendary victory as +12 underdogs against the Patriots in 2008. Clearly there is a pattern at work here.
That isn’t to say that you should bet on the underdog regardless, but do a close risk/reward analysis. If the spread is wider than three or four, it’s probably worth it to pick the underdog. You may lose, but you also may take home a big jackpot.