LAS VEGAS (AP) — Oddsmakers like the chances of Tom Brady winning a sixth Super Bowl ring, making the New England Patriots nearly a touchdown favorite to beat the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sports books around Las Vegas opened the Patriots around a 6-point favorite Sunday to win their second straight Super Bowl. They also made New England a big favorite to win the Super Bowl next year in Atlanta.
But the closest thing to a lock in this gambling city is that betting on this Super Bowl will smash the existing record of $138.5 million set just last year.
"Sports betting couldn't be more popular than it is now," said Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Las Vegas sports book. "That combined with the fan base of the Eagles and the strong economy will mean a record handle on this game."
Bookmakers posted their opening lines early in the fourth quarter of the Eagles-Vikings game, with lines ranging between 5 and 6 1/2 points. The over/under in most books for total points scored in the game was 48.
Bettors didn't take long to weigh in themselves, with one gambler taking the 6 points and putting a big bet on the Eagles at the South Point resort before their rout of the Minnesota Vikings was even over.
"Our first bet was $10,000 on the Eagles," said Jimmy Vaccaro, oddsmaker at the South Point.
Bettors jammed into sports books Sunday for the two conference championship games, with millions wagered in person and millions more bet on phone apps. Bookmakers had a good day, with most winning money on both games.
That shouldn't change in the Super Bowl, where bookmakers have turned a profit every time except the 2008 game when the New York Giants upset the previously unbeaten and 12-point favorite Patriots.
At the Westgate, Kornegay said the opening line of the Patriots minus-5.5 points was made knowing there would be money coming in from both the Eagles' rabid fan base and by bettors who simply have a dislike for the dominance of Brady and the Patriots.
"This is the only event where we make a line that depends on public opinion," Kornegay said. "There's so much more money from the public on this game than you would get from the so-called sharks. They come in here and they just don't want to root for the Patriots."
Unlike the games preceding it, a lot of the money on the Super Bowl comes from so-called "prop" bets that often crossover to other sports. Some of the bigger sports books will put up several hundred prop bets later this week that will include the coin flip and other possibilities that having nothing to do with the final score of the game.
"It's much easier to do lots of props with Brady," Vaccaro said. "Either you love him or you hate him. Half the people bet on him to see him win and half bet to see him lose."
One of the more popular prop bets is whether there will be a safety in the game, and Vaccaro said about $15,000 was wagered on either side of that prop even before the second game ended Sunday.
Oddsmakers at the William Hill chain also made the Patriots a 9-2 favorite to win next year's Super Bowl in Atlanta, followed by the Eagles at 17-2.