Betting on the Super Bowl is different than all other NFL games. Depending on the sportsbook operator, prop bets account for 50% – 65% of all Super Bowl wagers in Nevada.
This is anecdotal as the Nevada Gaming Control Board doesn’t share a specific number.
During the regular season, there are usually fewer than 50 prop bet options available at Nevada sportsbooks for the average football game. The number of prop bets offered for the Super Bowl is well into the hundreds and even more than a thousand at some Nevada sportsbooks.
Super Bowl betting wasn’t always this way. Betting on the Big Game changed with a unique bet in 1986 for a rookie defensive football player named William “The Refrigerator” Perry.
Prop bets continue to boost interest and the amount of money wagered on the Super Bowl in Nevada and around the country.
What is a prop bet?
For starters, the term “prop bet” is short for proposition bet. These are different kinds of bets than choosing a moneyline or point spread winner.
They’re also different from choosing over or under a total. However, these types of bets may be related.
A prop bet looks to answer a question. This kind of bet could be connected with an event in a game, a player, or the actual game itself while not having a direct effect on the final score.
Prop bets for this year’s Super Bowl
Here are some simple examples using the BetMGM sportsbook:
- How many total touchdowns will be scored by the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals? Over/Under 5.5
- How many yards will Matthew Stafford of the Rams throw for? Over/Under 279.5
There are also prop bets for questions with multiple answers.
This bet is called the “Race to 10 points scored.” The betting options are as follows:
- Rams to score 10 points first is -160
- Bengals to score 10 points first is +130
- Neither team to score 10 points at all is +6500 (65-1)
This is just a sample of the hundreds of Super Bowl prop bet options available in Nevada. Legal US sportsbooks in Nevada and the rest of the country require these bets to be tied with actual in-game statistics.
Only offshore sportsbooks offer Super Bowl prop bets for non-game-related events such as halftime performances or the time it takes to sing the National Anthem.
The Fridge changes the game
Prop betting was changed in 1985 and during the Super Bowl played in 1986. Art Manteris, formerly a bookmaker at Caesars Palace, decided to offer a wager on one of the most popular stories of the 1985 NFL season.
Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka used rookie 325-pound rookie defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry as a goal-line running back occasionally. His massive profile was a contrast to every-down running back and hall of fame player Walter Payton.
“The Fridge” scored three touchdowns in the regular season and was a pop-culture sensation. His very large body was captivating viewers around the country. Using a player like Perry was rarer in 1985 than using an offensive or defensive lineman to run or catch today.
Before Super Bowl XX, Caesars decided to offer the most unique Super Bowl prop bet at the time. The odds opened at 20-1 on The Fridge to score a touchdown. Bettors loved this wagering option so much that the odds were bet down to 2-1 by game time.
The Fridge went on to score a touchdown in the third quarter. This was the beginning of America’s newfound love of Super Bowl prop betting.
Betting on the Super Bowl was no longer about just betting the winner, loser, point spread and total. After this bet became so popular, sportsbooks decided to offer more Super Bowl prop bets every year.
Prop bets are starting to become available for more games as legal sports betting grows in popularity across the nation.
2021 Super Bowl betting
According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), a record 31.4 million American adults plan to bet on Super Bowl LVI in the US. This is an increase of 35% from the number of people betting on the Super Bowl 2021.
The AGA estimates that bettors in Nevada and around the country will legally wager an estimated $7.61 billion on the Super Bowl. This would be a massive increase of $3.33 billion from Big Game betting last year.
If the estimate holds this would be a 78% increase. Bill Miller, AGA President and the CEO said:
“The results are clear: Americans have never been more interested in legal sports wagering. The growth of legal options across the country not only protects fans and the integrity of games and bets but also puts illegal operators on notice that their time is limited.”
While prop betting started in Las Vegas, it’s among the most popular kinds of wagers at sportsbooks around the country. Prop bets will continue to help push Super Bowl betting into record territory.