What color will be the Gatorade that is used to douse the coach who wins Sunday’s Super Bowl XL? In order to limber up for the halftime gig, will the Rolling Stones be smoking pot backstage? Will one of the players maybe moon the crowd?
These are some of the oddball big-game scenarios, called prop bets that you can bet your money on. These are in addition to some of the more predictable questions such as whether it will be the Seattle Seahawks or the Pittsburgh Steelers that can be expected to take the Vince Lombardi Trophy – that are available at a multitude of Internet sites.
Professor Bill Thompson of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas says that the Super Bowl is so much more fun if you bet some money on it. Thompson is also the author of “Gambling in America: An Encyclopedia.”
It is predicted that online gamblers will be wagering more than $500 million while another $97 million will be bet in Nevada, all on the Super Bowl. This is in addition of course, to the immeasurable number of dollars placed in office pools, or individual betting at bars and those placed with backroom bookies.
As Kevin Smith has said, it is by a country mile, the biggest day of the entire year for his company Bet On Sports, which is an Internet gambling site that is operated out of Costa Rica. Last year Bet On Sports processed 500,000 individual bets placed on the Super Bowl. This year that number is expected to reach between 600,000 and 650,000.
There are some online sites that will take enormous bets. Pinnacle Sports spokesman Kyle Fratini said 20 to 30 gamblers have staked the site’s limit, which is a cool $100,000, on the outcome of the Super Bowl. The company functions in Curacao, which is in the Netherlands Antilles.
In comparison the office pools are particularly penny-ante. According to Vault Inc., a career-information concern in New York, practically two-thirds of U.S. workers are involved in office betting pools. Those that are the most popular center on football. Of these, fully 63 percent were for payouts of less than $150. The total for those pools that have jackpots exceeding $1000, is only 3 percent.
Because they’re on such unstable legal ground, the mainstream U.S. media outlets have decided to not sell advertising space to online gaming sites. This means the sites have had to get creative with regard to marketing. This then helps explain why they’ve come up with a list of wild and wacky prop bets that range from the usual football propositions such as the player most likely to score the first touchdown and the player who will be chosen MVP, to those that are way out in left field like – during the game, will Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton French-kiss in a luxury suite or will one of the Bush twins flash a television camera from the stands?
There are actually hundreds of prop bets that cut and curry every possible action that could imaginably happen during the game like what team will come up with the most first downs in the first quarter? Which will be the first team to punt? Which team will receive the first penalty?
Professor Thompson, from Las Vegas says that most of these bets are sucker bets. As an example, there is a bet regarding how many seconds the national anthem will go on which offers a choice of more than 113 seconds or less than 109 seconds. That means if the time is actually between these times, everybody loses but the house.
Then are even prop bets that make one thank of the age old proverb about a fool and his money such as – the possibility that a saucer will land from Mars with Martians asking to watch the game (this is an actual bet which holds the adds 15,000 to 1 and is available through Bet On Sports).
There are many gamblers who can be known to place a prop bet or two but only for the fun of it, but most of the Super Bowl activity is based on two standard questions:
– predicting the game’s point-spread. (At this point the Steelers are considered to be a 4.5-point favorite. This means that if you were to bet on Pittsburgh, it would have to win by at least 5 points for you to make any money.)
– determining what will be the absolute point score. (Las Vegas has set 47 as the “over/under”. This means you may either bet that the total score will be less than 47 or exceed 47. If the total points equal 47, this is considered a push. In this case you would get your money back.)
If you want to bet online, it is necessary to open up an account on one of the gambling sites.
This can be difficult since there are some online transaction firms, such as PayPal, and a few credit card companies, that are blocking e-gambling transactions. If you wish to gamble you might choose to wire your money by Western Union, you could transfer it from your bank account, or you could send the site a bank check or money order.
A 10 percent commission or ‘vigorish,’ is charged by many sites charge. This means if you are betting $100 and you lose, you will actually lose $110, if you win you receive back the $110 in addition to your winnings.
The online sites will make every effort to assure gamblers that they will get their winnings.
Although it has only been around for a brief 10 years old, it is bringing in massive amounts of cash even though it is outlawed in the United States. In 2001, bets from Americans reached $933.7 million for online betting of sports events. According to Christiansen Capital Advisors, a service that tracks gambling revenues, by 2005, this figure had more than doubled. From 2001 to 2005, the total for U.S. online gambling, which included sports bets, wagers on casino games, and lotteries and online poker, rose from $1.57 billion to $5.92 billion.
The explanation for this is based on factors that have made the Internet so successful in dealing with other forms of e-commerce. These factors may be listed as access, convenience of use, its immediacy, and convince of transaction processing. But when you are talking about e-gambling there is something else that is at play and that is its legality. Nevada is the only place in the United States that legally allows bets on sports.
The Internet sites represent a legal gray area. In order to avoid U.S. laws all of these operate offshore. To deal with this, the government has taken the 1961 federal Wire Act, originally passed in order to ban sports bets over the telephone, and interprets it as being extended to Internet betting.
The odds that the federal government will arrest you for online wagering are very slim. Professor Thompson says that Internet gamblers are not going to get into trouble, and that after Internet gambling of billions of dollars, only one person has been prosecuted and that was for something else.
Law enforcement has instead focused on companies that offer services to online gambling. But opponents of gambling are worried that the Internet’ makes online betting too accessible.
Executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling in Washington, D.C. Tom Grey, says that gambling is leading to increased addictions, to bankruptcy, and to crime and corruption.
He sees Super Bowl wagering as undercutting the sport ’s integrity. He says that because of the betting the Super Bowl has become a place where gambling has impaired every action, and every play, and it’s no longer a matter of who wins or loses.
His group is pushing the government to go on attacking U.S. companies that are supporting gambling transactions. He says it will fiercely oppose any attempt to legalize the offshore companies in the United States.