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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Super Bowl: Betting may be up

By Michael McCarthy
USA Today

A sign of life for the struggling U.S. economy: the amount legally bet on Super Bowl XLIV is predicted to rise this year after a double-digit drop last year.

The total betting amount for Sunday's game between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints will increase 5(PERCENT), predicts Jay Kornegay, vice president of race & sports book operations for the Las Vegas Hilton. That would bring the total in Nevada to $85.6 million.

Any increase would be welcome after Super Bowl XLIII when the total for the Pittsburgh Steelers' 27-23 victory vs. the Arizona Cardinals plunged 11.4(PERCENT) to $81.5 million in the state's 176 legal sports books, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. That was the biggest year-to-year percentage drop since 1991 and lowest total in five years since the $81.2 million bet on the New England Patriots' 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.

"Super Bowl reflects the economy. Last year it was the biggest sporting event of the year vs. the recession - and the recession won," Kornegay says. "We're calling this a rematch. The Super Bowl is the slight favorite."

But Richard Gardner, sports book manager for Bodog.com, predicts the numbers will go down, not up. "The number of bettors is the same but average wagers are down. That's directly attributable to the economy."

The legalized action in Nevada is a bellwether of total betting on the Big Game. It's only a fraction of the billions that will bet illegally through online sports books, bookies, bar pools and side bets, says RJ Bell of Pregame.com.