Last night at 7 pm here in Las Vegas, I did what many serious sports gamblers do on the Thursday evening during the "off week" preceeding the Super Bowl.
I headed to the global epicenter of live sports gambling, which is the Superbook at the Westgate in Las Vegas.
Due to health and safety restrictions, turnout this year was sparse, which was to be expected. Nonetheless, the ritual of announcing all the props and numbers went on as planned.
In previous years, several hundred football bettors showed up on this big night, crammed into the sportsbook, milled around for a few hours, talked amongst outselves, and eventually lined up with fistfulls of cash in anticipation of the release time for props – which number in the hundreds (actually thousands if you calculate all the wagering possibilities). It's the world's most humongous buffet for a single sporting event. There's a prop on just about everything from the coin toss to the post-game MVP award.
I miss the comraderie of NFL handicappers hanging out at this once-a-year spectacle. Year around, we stay busy most of the time, and with online apps it's no longer necessary to go to brick and mortar casinos to place wagers. The only reason to visit a sportsbook in person was/is either to cash out winnings or refund accounts, or in some cases transfer funds between accounts. COVID makes dealing online not just optimal in terms of time management, but wise for reasons of personal safety and risk.
However, the Super Bowl – or "The Big Game" as it's called here in Las Vegas for legal reasons – is typically that once-a-year attraction that brings the Las Vegas sports gambling community together as one.
There's at least one more reason to bet the props -- in person. When the numbers flash up on the toteboard, they move fast. Once the explosion of lights flashes on screen, there's a roar from the crowd, and gamblers starts calculating the numbers, furiously riffling through sheets with the odds, and moving through lines that snake back and forth like a roller-coaster ride at Disneyland.
But last night was nothing like that, due to the smaller turnout.
Fortunately, we can bet online which gives us just as many options. Better yet, if you live in Canada, you can visit SPREADS.CA and see the same propositions and get much the same odds offered here in Las Vegas – sometimes even better numbers than are posted here. It's always good to shop around.
In the next feature, I'll share more stories from the Westgate Super Bowl week and explain why you should be very wary when you hear about big bets and big bettors when making your own decisions on what to bet.