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Nevada cashes in big with record haul of Super Bowl betting

The Silver State took in an all-time high of $179.8 million in wagers on the NFL's title game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, leading to a healthy 8.6 percent profit.
Image: Las Vegas Skyline
The Las Vegas Strip after sunset in Las Vegas on Aug. 23, 2020.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

Nevada sports books took $179.8 million in Super Bowl bets, regulators said Monday, smashing the state's previous mark and scoring an 8 percent-plus profit.

Intense gambling interest in the Los Angeles Rams' 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals topped the previous record for bets in Nevada, which was $158.58 million on the 2018 title game.

The house scored an 8.6 percent profit thanks to action going on the Rams, giving 4½ points, and other bettors’ putting their money on the total score’s going over 48.5 points, said Michael Lawton, a senior economic analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

For decades, the only legal sports bets were placed in Nevada. But that changed in 2018 when the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that had required states to ban gambling on the outcomes of sporting events.

Now sports betting is legal, and often allowed via smartphone apps, in dozens of states.

But even with the loss of exclusivity, the lure of sports betting has only led to growth in old-school Nevada wagers, said Brett Abarbanel, the director of research at the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

"With that massive push [of new legal sports betting] comes a general awareness that sports betting is legal," Abarbanel said Monday. "Now, having that awareness, you realize perhaps these legal opportunities exist."