The Seattle Seahawks are favored to win. The San Francisco 49ers are, too.
Not Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field, but the Super Bowl.
At Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Seattle is already a 1-point favorite to beat the Broncos in the big game and a 4-point favorite to beat the Patriots. San Francisco is favored in both potential matchups as well, by 1.5 points against Denver and 3.5 points over New England.
The old adage “take it one game at a time” does not apply to sports gamblers.
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Most major sports books list Seattle as a 3.5-point favorite to beat San Francisco on Sunday. But the wagering possibilities don’t end there.
Caesars sports book provides lines for which team will score first, if there will be a defensive or special-teams touchdown, how far the longest field goal will travel and many other outcomes.
“You could bet the Seahawks plus-7 if you wanted to (meaning Seattle would be a touchdown underdog instead of field goal favorite),” said David Pemberton, director of specialty games at Caesars Palace. “Instead of laying $1.10 to make $1 (profit), you’d have to lay $4.”
Proposition bets – or prop bets – allow gamblers the opportunity to bet on all sorts of scenarios, many of which are not even related to the final score. It’s another way for casinos and sports books to entice bettors and spread out the action.
“That’s one of the reasons the Super Bowl has so many prop bets,” Pemberton said. “You get two weeks from the time this game ends until the Super Bowl. There’s a lot of time for people to make bets … almost anything you can think of for people to wager on.”
The website bovada.lv offers an extensive list of prop bets for Sunday’s game. With a nod to the 12th Man, the website lets gamblers wager on what the highest decibel level shown on TV will be – the over/under is set at 135.5 – and on how many false-start penalties the 49ers will commit.
Bovada.lv is also taking money on whether the game will go to overtime, if either team will convert a two-point conversion, and if a Seattle player will kiss his biceps after scoring a touchdown (a move that would emulate 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s scoring celebration).
Prop bets, especially for the Super Bowl, are often seen as a quirky way to add interest to the betting board. But there is another reason sports books offer so many exotic wagers.
“There’s usually like 15-20 percent juice (the amount of profit for the house) on these props,” said Lee Sterling of Paramountsports.com. “The normal bet is 11-10 (percent). (Casinos) just have a bigger edge.”
Sterling is a sports prognosticator out of Miami who offers advice to gamblers on his website. He can be heard handicapping games on more than 30 radio stations throughout the country, including Seattle’s KJR 950-AM.
He said the reason casinos produce so many prop bets is to get gamblers to make as many wagers as possible. That way, the house has better odds.
“They want you to bet a lot of them,” Sterling said. “They know if they get you to bet five, seven, 10 (different prop bets) eventually the juice is going to eat you up.”
But Sterling admitted there’s a bit of enjoyment that comes from these sometimes outlandish offers.
“It makes it fun,” he said. “… (People) are going to wager on who’s going to score the first touchdown. Some people are going to bet the coin toss (heads or tails), how long the national anthem takes (to sing).”
The randomness of it all can sometimes come back to bite the casino.
“We don’t know if they’re right until after the game,” said Pemberton, who develops the lines for Caesars. “You kind of spend the whole time second-guessing yourself.”
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
A look at some of the prop bets being offered for Sunday’s game:
• Which team will score first? (Caesars Sports Book): 49ers = even; Seahawks = minus-130
• What will the first score be? (Caesars): Touchdown = minus-130; FG or safety = even
• What will be the highest decibel level shown on TV? (bovada.lv): Over/under = 135.5
• How many false-start penalties will the 49ers commit? (bovada.lv): Over/under = 2
• Will any Seahawks player kiss his biceps after scoring a TD? (bovada.lv): Yes = plus-400; No = minus-800