'One-sided' action on Panthers helps move Super Bowl 50 line

ByBen Fawkes ESPN logo
Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Carolina Panthers opened as clear favorites Sunday over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. The public money has been backing them ever since.

"I can't remember a more one-sided betting Super Bowl," Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US, told ESPN in an email.

The Westgate was the Las Vegas sportsbook with the highest opening line for Carolina (-5.5) -- with most other books opening with the Panthers favored between 3.5 points and 4.5 points. Westgate's opening number was posted at 9:06 p.m. ET Sunday and lasted a mere 13 minutes before several four-figure wagers on the Broncos pushed the line down to Carolina -4, which was the Vegas consensus line on Sunday night.

But by Monday morning, most Vegas books -- including the Westgate -- had moved to Carolina -4.5.

"Over 80 percent of the early money and tickets are on the Panthers -4.5, and we are still writing tickets at that ratio," John Avello, the race and sports operations director at Wynn and Encore, said in an email. "I could see us going higher (possibly to 5.5, but even to 6)."

On Wednesday morning, the consensus line shifted to Carolina -5, as the vast majority of public money has been backing the Panthers, including several five-figure wagers at the Westgate. By Wednesday evening, the consensus line at Vegas sportsbooks was Carolina -5.5, with the lowest lines at the Wynn (-5) and Treasure Island (-4.5).

"The public is clearly enamored with the supposed mismatch of Cam Newton over Peyton Manning," Bogdanovich said. "[Nearly] every ticket is on Carolina and it doesn't show any signs of slowing up."

Jay Kornegay, head oddsmaker at the Westgate, agreed that the Carolina money won't be slowing down in the coming week.

"Public money will drive it back to our opening number," Kornegay said. "If Denver money doesn't show up, you might see some 6s pop up Super Bowl weekend."

As of Wednesday evening, 87 percent of the spread bets and 94 percent of the total money wagered at William Hill US were on Carolina. One bettor wagered $623,142.25 at William Hill US on the Panthers to win straight up at -190 odds. The bet would win $327,969.60 if Carolina prevails.

As Kornegay notes, there will be plenty of more money coming in before Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, as roughly 80 percent of the action will come in the final three days before the game.

Last year, $115.9 million was bet on the Super Bowl at Nevada sportsbooks, who won $3.2 million when the New England Patriots Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX.

According to an estimate released Wednesday by the American Gaming Association, Americans will bet $4.2 billion on Super Bowl 50 -- an 8 percent increase over last year. Nearly 97 percent of those bets will be wagered illegally.

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