Welcome to US Bets’ recurring “Ask a Bookmaker” column, which answers many of the common (and uncommon!) questions gamblers and enthusiasts have about how sportsbooks operate in the modern age of sports betting.
The executive vice president of race and sportsbook operations at the Westgate SuperBook, Jay Kornegay has been in the sports betting industry for more than 30 years. After getting his start in Lake Tahoe, Kornegay took his talents to Las Vegas, where he opened the Imperial Palace sportsbook in 1989 before taking the reins of the 30,000-square-foot SuperBook in 2004. A Colorado State University alum whose putting stroke tends to betray him on the back nine, Kornegay has helped navigate the SuperBook’s expansion into multiple states since PASPA was overturned in 2018.
Have a question you’d like to ask Kornegay? Send it to [email protected] The Q&A below has been edited for clarity and brevity.
What were some betting trends that really jumped out at you during this year’s Super Bowl?
For the most part, the game had very balanced wagering. I believe it reflected the line on the game itself. The line was basically a pick ‘em with the Eagles just being a very slight favorite and that’s how the bets rolled in. We had a little bit more on the Eagles than the Chiefs, and once it kicked off, we needed Kansas City and the under.
The only thing that was a little lopsided was the total, as most of the bets, as expected, were on the over. If the Eagles would have held on and won the game, it would have been a pretty big loss for us. I didn’t find one operator that didn’t need the Chiefs and under.
Were people in the Westgate sportsbook more steamed about the defensive holding call toward the end of the game or Kenneth Gainwell’s touchdown being overturned on the first drive?
Anybody that was wearing green was pissed off at that holding call. I kept hearing complaints about that call well after the game. Gainwell was kind of a longer shot, so it was a bad break because they almost had a great call by picking him to score the first touchdown. But as soon as you saw the replay, you knew he didn’t get in. When we saw the replay, we were like, “Well, it’s Hurts.” And that was a much better result for us, because Gainwell was anywhere from 20 to 30/1 and Hurts was one of the favorites.
What were some of the biggest or most bizarre bets that cashed on Sunday?
Right out of the gate, we were a healthy five-figure loser on tails. We were like, “Oh, we’re off to a great start.”
We had a healthy six-figure bet on the over at 51 and jumped up to 52. We skipped 51.5 and went right to 52 and pretty much balanced that out after a couple hours.
The defensive touchdown stung a little bit. “Yes” was +270. That was a big hit for us. Kelce was +230 to score a touchdown in the first half. That was also a stinger for us.
Kelce props were some of the more popular props on the board. We lost a few and we won a few. His over/under for receptions was 6.5 and everybody was betting the over, and he came in at 6. However, his over/under receiving yards was 77.5 and it went up to 79.5 — an accumulation of a lot of small wagers. And he just got over that at 81 yards, so that one didn’t go our way.
Did you notice a significant uptick in in-game betting during the game?
There was an uptick when Mahomes was limping off the field. I don’t know what they gave him at halftime, but I’d like some.
I was surprised with the halftime wagering. I thought more people were going to take the Eagles with Mahomes not being 100 percent at the half. There were plenty of Eagles wagers, but we took some large Chiefs wagers as well.
Going into the game, if you’d told me the final score was going to be 38-35, I would have rolled my eyes and said, “Drive a stake in me.” Whenever we have a high-scoring game, it’s usually not good for us. The propositions were probably a small winner for us, but they usually carry the flag if it’s a normally played game.
How did it go down in Arizona in terms of signing up new customers and generating interest in the SuperBook Sports app?
I heard it went over very, very well. We were at Radio Row all week and had a huge spike in signups over the last four or five days. I’m glad there wasn’t some crazy thing that happened and people throw the f-word — fixed — out there.
I thought the Eagles conducted themselves very well after the game. I heard this a number of times — that the Chiefs are the new Patriots, the new darlings of the NFL are the Chiefs, Mahomes has taken the place of Tom Brady, so expect them to get more calls than other teams. That’s not my quote. That’s more of a fans’ observation than anything else.
We had a slight uptick in handle from last year, and that was a record-setting year. Last year, Nevada handled almost $180 million, which surpassed the 2018 Super Bowl as the record. That one was between Philadelphia and New England — they wrote $158 million-plus that year.
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