Las Vegas oddsmaker sets early line for Super Bowl, and crosses his fingers

Jay Rood has posted the most important number of the year to sports gamblers in Las Vegas and throughout the country.

In Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5, the AFC champion New England Patriots are favored to defeat the New York Giants by 31/2 points.

Also of interest, the over/under for total points in the game is 551/2 points.


Now, Rood, vice president of MGM Resorts supervising 12 race and sports books across Nevada, including Aria, MGM Grand, Mirage and the Bellagio on the Strip, waits for another seven figures of action to come his way.

How did you finalize those numbers?

“We were originally looking at the Patriots as 4- or 41/2-point favorites, but this Giants performance here [defeating San Francisco, 20-17, in overtime] being so dominating on the road against tough competition, while the Patriots are not looking as good as they have been, I think it’s a good number.”

What are you trying to accomplish in setting these numbers?

“The fans want to bet the favorite and the over. I’m hoping to generate enough volume on the underdog and under to set that off. With the Patriots winning, going into this weekend I preferred to have the Giants as the second team to help us split the money because of all of their fans.”

There are gamblers who bring suitcases of cash into your books to try and gut you on your Super Bowl lines. Do those people arrive immediately or bide their time to just before kickoff?

“Both things happen. They have their opinions on the game as soon as it emerges, and if they don’t like my number, they’re here right away. That could happen to us now. The Giants bettors [Sunday] just cashed a ticket, and their team looked good, so they come right back and bet the Super Bowl based on what they saw and how that team let them cash a ticket. Yet, if they think the number will come their way even more, they’ll bide their time.”

Why are the Patriots favored?

“They’re business-like. They take care of business and win. People like that. They won [Sunday] without [Tom] Brady playing like Brady.”

I saw the Giants get to as high as 80-to-1 underdogs to win the Super Bowl earlier this season. Don’t you need them to lose?

“We opened them [in future-book betting] at 30 to 1, but they didn’t get a lot of support until they got to 12/1 and then recently, they opened the playoffs at 18/1 even after being 25/1 in Week 14. We won’t get that hurt if they win. The Giants have been struggling the last couple years. [Coach] Tom Coughlin’s been on and off the hot seat. Yes, they are extremely popular, but in regard to our risk, they’re middle of the road. The [Detroit] Lions and [Houston] Texans we needed out, the [Dallas] Cowboys weren’t good for us, either.”

You’re up this season?

“We were an overall winner for the season and playoffs. It was a little disappointing we didn’t do better. Quite a bit of favorites to over combinations hit, and some obvious live [under]dogs hit. It’s more and more challenging. People are much more savvy about what we’re looking at, and it’s more and more difficult to manage it, to draw money on the other side [favoring underdogs and the under] without exposing yourself. The numbers moved a lot this year because of that.”

Last year’s Super Bowl outcome was so ugly for you, with the betting again concentrated on the favorite and the over. Was there a desire to make the ‘over’ number especially high to help your cause?

“That combination, when it hits, is dreadful. There’s not a lot you can do to offset it if it hits except hope you win every other scenario. There is a temptation to make the number high, but if you do put some extra points in there, then the professional handicappers jump right on it with their big money and force you to move the number down before your main public comes into town. Then you risk losing both ways. So you don’t want to give the professionals a free pass and let the public come in looking at the lower number.”

You’ll need the Giants in this game. You like them getting a field goal plus that ‘hook’ of half a point?

“I didn’t want my number to be a solid number, not simply three or four. People have to think if they really like the Patriots. Yeah, I like the Giants. The Patriots’ defense isn’t up to the normal defense you see from a Super Bowl team. At 31/2, it’s a good bet.”