How long will it take Gladys Knight to sing the national anthem before Sunday’s big game?
Which team will win the coin toss?
How many times will President Trump tweet?
Those are just a few of the exotic wagers — or prop bets — being offered this year in Las Vegas and around the world.
The Super Bowl is not only the most watched sporting event, it is also the most wagered upon.
The total amount bet on the big game — or the handle — in Las Vegas increases nearly every year, and has gone up from just over $80 million in 2004 to almost $160 million last year.
Lee Sterling, owner of Paramount Sports in Miami, said the handle worldwide is expected to exceed $9 billion in 2019.
Sterling has been handicapping sporting events for decades. He recalled recently the humble beginnings of prop bets in the Super Bowl.
It was 1985, he said, and the Chicago Bears were facing the New England Patriots.
“One of the sports books got courageous, and I think they put up nine prop bets,” he said. “But one of them was, ‘Will Refrigerator Perry score a touchdown?’ Well, he did, and it ended up costing them a lot.”
Since then, the business of prop bets has grown exponentially, he said. That’s intentional, too.
The more wagers a sports book can persuade customers into putting money on, the larger cut the book gets. That’s because the house keeps a portion of each bet, known as the take or the juice. The amount of juice on prop bets is usually much more than on standard wagers.
“I counted 440 (prop bets) on one of the sites,” Sterling said. “But I would never go more than 10 wagers on prop plays.”
Sterling said the juice can be so high, you could actually win six of 11 prop bets and still lose money.
Some of the more exotic wagers can be enticing, though, and just plain fun.
Offers this year let you wager on whether Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine will be wearing a hat to start the halftime show, what color of liquid will be dumped on the winning coach and whether or not the roof will be open in the stadium for kickoff.
Sterling says he steers clear of wagers that rely entirely on chance, like the coin toss. But other prop bets are worth studying.
Take the national anthem, he said. The over/under was set at 1 minute, 47 seconds. There’s a YouTube video of Knight singing it in 1991 a bit faster than that, Sterling said. But she’s older now, and she’ll be singing in front of her hometown Atlanta crowd.
“I think at her age, even though she is quite powerful … It takes a little longer,” he said. “I’m going to go over.”
And just like that, a prop bet is made.
It’s estimated more than 10 percent of the country will wager on this year’s game one way or another, Sterling said. That could include just a handshake bet for a cocktail or lunch.
“The key is, hone in on the best possible wagers and bet within your means,” Sterling said.
And try to remember, he added, it is supposed to be enjoyable.
“Have fun,” he said. “Get a group of fans together. Eat. Watch the game and hopefully your team wins.”
A sampling of prop bets being offered for this year’s big game:
What team will win the coin toss?
- New England -105
- Los Angeles -105
Will the coin toss result in heads or tails?
- Heads -105
- Tails -105
How long will it take Gladys Knight to sing the national anthem?
- Over 1:47 -160
- Under 1:47 +120
Will any scoring drive take less time than it takes Knight to sing the anthem?
- Yes -140
- No even
Will any player take a knee during the anthem?
- Yes +300
- No -500
What color liquid will be poured on the winning coach?
- Clear/water +220
- Lime/green/yellow +225
- Orange +400
- Blue +400
- Red +600
- Purple +1000
How many times will President Trump tweet on Sunday?
- Over 6 -140
- Under 6 even
Will the CBS broadcast mention the point spread or the total during the game?
- Yes +225
- No -350
How many plays will analyst Tony Romo correctly predict?
- Over 7.5 -120
- Under 7.5 -120
Will the roof for Mercedes-Benz Stadium be open for kickoff?
- Yes even
- No -140
Will Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine be wearing a hat when he begins the halftime show?
- Yes +200
- No -300
How many songs will be played during the halftime show?
- Over 7.5 -135
- Under 7.5 -105
Will Christina Aguilera make an appearance during the halftime show?
- Yes +225
- No -350