Bettors wagered a record $81.2 million in Nevada and sports books won $12.4 million on Sunday's Super Bowl, state gambling regulators reported Wednesday.
The total bet on the New England Patriots-Carolina Panthers matchup eclipsed the $77.2 million record set in 1998, when the Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers, according to figures released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
"We were very surprised," said Frank Streshley, a research analyst with the state Gaming Control Board. He said he couldn't explain why the handle, or the amount wagered, was higher than a year ago, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Oakland Raiders, 48-21.
Nevada sports books handled $71.6 million in wagers on the Tampa Bay-Oakland game, and reported winning $5.2 million, a ratio of 7.3 percent.
The results Wednesday from 152 legal sports books in the state underscored post-game comments from Las Vegas oddsmakers, who reported a double-digit increase in business for Super Bowl XXXVIII, compared with last year.
"I don't think any of us anticipated that we would set a record," said Robert Walker, oddsmaker for MGM Mirage properties. "People were in a very good mood ... and they put their money down."
Sports books won when the Patriots won, 32-29, on a late field goal. Most oddsmakers had the Patriots favored by seven points and the game's total score at about 38 points, meaning fans could bet whether the total score would be over or under that.
Walker said a lot of bettors believed New England would cover the seven-point spread. They also took Carolina without the points. In both cases, the bettors lost.
Streshley said the casinos also won because people bet the Super Bowl would be a low-scoring game.
The 15.3 percent casino win ratio was less than the 16.3 percent in 2001, when $67.7 million was wagered and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Giants, 34-7. Because the bet total was lower, casinos won $11.2 million that year.
Casinos won just $472,033 in 1998, a ratio of 0.6 percent.