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Super Bowl: Nevada offers a host of gaming options for Sunday's big game

The Salt Lake Tribune
Jan. 29, 2008

by Tom Wharton

MESQUITE, Nev. - The office Super Bowl pool is fine, though technically illegal in Utah. So, too, are bets between friends. But if you really want to wager on the year's biggest football game, take a trip over the border to Wendover, Mesquite or Las Vegas, Nev., where betting on athletic events in not only legal, but encouraged.

Sunday's showdown between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants will be the largest single gambling event of the year in Las Vegas, said Paul Mello, sports editor for Vegas.com. While NCAA basketball March Madness might bring in more cash over the length of the three-week-long tournament, the Super Bowl far outranks anything.

Super Bowl bets

  • Game winner with points favoring one team: The New England Patriots are a 12 1/2 point favorite.
  • Total points scored by both teams: bet is for over or under established point total.
  • First score of each quarter (pass, field goal, touchdown run, no score or other score).
  • Total field goals made by both teams.
  • Pick score ending in even or odd number for a team.
  • Whether more points will be scored in the first half or the second half.

Source: LeRoy's Race and Sports Book

"Three of us work all day long," said Mike Sowder of the comparatively small LeRoys Sports Book at the Eureka Casino in Mesquite. "I personally did about $40,000 to $50,000 last year. It's a lot of fun. The day goes fast. You can't bet on the game after it starts so I get to watch the first half. Then there is betting on the second half at halftime."

What makes the wagering enjoyable is that there are so many things to bet on beyond the final score, including halftime score, safeties, number of field goals, and guessing the number of points scored or total interceptions by both teams.

Mello said some sports books in the past have coupled the Super Bowl with an NBA game, allowing gamblers to wager money on, for example, whether basketball star LeBron James will score more points that day than the winning football team.

"That makes it fun," he said. "You get to bet on two games and have a reason to bet on a middle-of-the-season NBA game."

Super Bowl Sunday is so big in Las Vegas that those who want the communal experience of watching the game with a big crowd, but don't have several thousand dollars to buy a ticket to the actual event, must plan ahead.

Even though mega-resorts feature sports book areas with dozens of big-screen televisions, VIP suites, and hundreds of chairs, Mello said fans begin reserving seats in these areas as early as 7 a.m.

"It's near impossible to get a seat," he said. "You have to get there super early, then defend your territory. It can be difficult even on a regular NBA Sunday."

That's because many of the casinos offer free or discounted drinks, give away sports hats and T-shirts and offer inexpensive or free buffets to keep fans near the casinos.

At the Tailgaterz Tavern at the Oasis in Mesquite, for example, there have been regular Sunday and Monday night football events all year that provide giveaways. The Super Bowl just ranks as the largest of the year. The Club Xtreme at the Oasis is offering a $25 Super Bowl package that includes a buffet, free drinks and prizes.

In Mesquite, sports books at the Oasis, Virgin River and CasaBlanca will give away a free T-shirt with a $20 parlay card starting Friday.

Vegas.com, a Web site-based travel agency that books all-things Las Vegas, calls seeing a game at a big sports book in a hotel such as The Wynn, Mandalay Bay, the Las Vegas Hilton or Sports Pit at Harrahs "the next best thing to the 50-yard line."

"It's always a great weekend for Vegas," said Mello, who said he wouldn't be surprised if the game's close proximity to Las Vegas - it's being played in Glendale, Ariz. - will see many fans stop to make bets on their way to seeing the Super Bowl live.

By the way, if you're betting on the game, the New England Patriots are favored by 12 1/2 points.

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