Jets still attracting Super Bowl bets … seriously

  • Joined ESPN in 2014
  • Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008

Money on the New York Jets to win the Super Bowl showed up last week at Las Vegas sportsbooks.

Petite in size, the sincerity behind these bets is questionable. They seem more like tricks than treats, and don’t have the hallmarks of a well-thought-out investment.

Plus the winless Jets just aren’t very good.

Still, last Tuesday at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, a customer parted ways with $40 for a ticket on the Jets to win the Super Bowl at 5,000-1 odds. Around the same time, across town, a pair of single-figure Super Bowl bets on the Jets were placed with MGM books — one for $5 and the other for $2, each at 1,000-1 odds.

Not every bet on the Jets this year has been tiny, though. Prior to the season, the SuperBook took a $500 bet on the Jets to win the Super Bowl at 200-1, and MGM counts three $100 bets on the Jets in its Super Bowl portfolio.

Despite last week’s support, the Jets remain at the bottom of the betting market. They have attracted the fewest bets and the least amount of money in MGM’s odds to win the Super Bowl, and they’re putting bookmakers in an unenviable position every week.

At DraftKings the Jets attracted barely 10% of the money bet on the point spread before their 24-0 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday.

“Every week, it’s the same thing,” Jeff Stoneback, director of race and sport for MGM in Nevada, said. “Unfortunately, we’re rooting for the Jets.”

The Jets are 0-6, and have yet to even cover the spread in a game. Furthermore, they’ve failed to cover the spread by an average of 11.3 points per game, by far the worst mark in the league.

Expectations of an 0-16 campaign are building. After a Thursday night loss to the Broncos in Week 4, bookmaker William Hill U.S. posted a proposition on “Will the Jets go 0-16?” The “Yes” opened at +1,500. The price was down to +600 ahead of Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. The action on the prop has been minimal, but 98% of the bets and 98% of the money is on “Yes.”

The Jets will host the Bills this coming week, before traveling to face the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs on Nov. 1.

While we look forward to that showdown, here is this week’s edition of Notable Bets, our look at the betting action around the U.S.:


• Multiple sportsbooks said this Sunday was the best of the NFL season so far for the house. “The only significant loss we had was Bears-Panthers,” Stoneback said. “Patriots getting beat was a big one for us. Eagles covering against the Ravens and Falcons winning were also good.”

• “Best Sunday of the year to date,” John Murray, executive director at the Westgate SuperBook, told ESPN, pointing to the Broncos’ outright upset of the Patriots as the best result of the day for the book.

• Bettors had more success at DraftKings, which reported two giant winning parlays that cost the sportsbook $2.3 million.

One was a $2 million two-leg, money-line parlay featuring the Lions (-159) and Dolphins (-385). The Lions beat the Jaguars 34-16, and the Dolphins routed the Jets, netting the big bettor a $2.1 million profit.

The other was a $75,000 three-leg parlay on the Ravens money line, the Dolphins money line and the Steelers -3. The Ravens held off the Eagles 30-28, and the Steelers easily covered the spread in a 38-7 win over the Browns. The parlay paid $221,951.55.

On Sunday afternoon, as it became apparent that both parlay bets would hit, Johnny Avello, DraftKings sportsbook director, said his shop was “stuck a little.”

“It’s a huge bet, and, yeah, it’s nice to be in a lot of stats and have a lot of volume,” Avello told ESPN.

• John Sheeran, sportsbook director for FanDuel, said the Buccaneers’ upset of the Packers was bad for his shop but didn’t have many complaints on what he described as a “really good day” for the house.

• Bears rookie tight end Cole Kmet scored the first touchdown in Sunday’s game against the Panthers. Kmet was 100-1 to score the first TD at DraftKings, which reported taking a $100 bet on Kmet. The bettor won a net $10,000.

FanDuel had Kmet listed at 50-1 and reported taking a $200 bet at those odds.

• For the third straight week, more money was bet on college football at the Borgata than was bet on the NFL. “It’s never happened here prior to three weeks ago,” Tom Gable, sportsbook director at the Borgata, told ESPN. “The volume for NFL isn’t down, it’s just that much of an increase on college football that is causing it.”


• There were more bets placed and more money wagered on the Georgia-Alabama game on Saturday than any other college football game so far this season at DraftKings.

• Midway through the second quarter, with Georgia leading 17-10, a bettor on DraftKings placed an $881,600 wager on the Bulldogs on an alternate point spread of +7.5 (-139) odds. Alabama came back and won 41-24.

• Alabama closed as a consensus 6-point favorite. It was the 71st consecutive game in which the Crimson Tide were the betting favorite, the second-longest such streak in modern college football history. Alabama also owns the longest streak, at 72 games. Barring a significant event, the Crimson Tide will break that record on Oct. 31 against Mississippi State.

• The line dropped from -6 to as low as -4 after it was revealed Wednesday that Alabama coach Nick Saban had tested positive for the coronavirus. Sportsbook PointsBet reported taking money from sharp bettors on the Crimson Tide -4, and the line began to grow late in the week. Saban eventually was cleared to coach on the sideline.

Ed Salmons, veteran oddsmaker at the SuperBook, said in his opinion Saban was worth “zero” to the point spread, but the betting market thought otherwise.

“One of the guys who does move lines laid [Alabama] five yesterday, early in the morning,” Salmons told ESPN.

• Salmons estimated the Georgia-Alabama handle was five times greater than how much was bet on either the ALCS or NLCS baseball games on Saturday at his book.

• The Georgia-Alabama total opened at 49.5 at Circa Sports, the first Las Vegas sportsbook to post weekly college football numbers. It climbed to 58.5 during the week and closed around 58 at most shops.

• The largest bet FanDuel took on the Georgia-Alabama game was $64,000 on under 56.5 — it lost.

• Salmons said he has Alabama and Clemson power-rated as essentially the same teams, with Ohio State a point less because the Buckeyes have not played yet this season.

Other college football notes

• Clemson opened as a 45-point favorite over Syracuse at Las Vegas sportsbook Circa. At -45, it’s the largest point spread in an ACC game since Florida State was a 48-point favorite over Wake Forest in 2000.

• Other notable opening lines via Circa on Sunday:

Illinois at Wisconsin (-21, 59.5)
Notre Dame (-8, 48.5) at Pittsburgh
Penn State (-9, 57.5) at Indiana
Nebraska at Ohio State (-23, 71.5)
South Carolina at LSU (-7, 54.5)
Michigan (-2, 56.5) at Minnesota

• Most bets to win the national championship at the SuperBook:

1. Alabama
2. Ohio State
3. Florida
4. Georgia
5. LSU

Odds and ends

• New Jersey sportsbooks took $748.6 million in bets in September, the most in any month since the state launched its legal sports betting market in June 2018. New Jersey books won a net $45.1 million, $5.8 million of it on September football games.

The hold percentage on football — the portion of the total amount bet that the books keep — is a slim 3.4% for the year. In comparison, Nevada sportsbooks’ football hold has hovered around 5.5%.

•, a sportsbook based in Panama that is popular with American bettors but not licensed in the U.S., was taken offline by a reported ransomware attack that began last week and lasted through most of the weekend. “Valued customers, we are offline due to an aggressive cyber attack,” the company wrote on its Twitter feed Friday afternoon. “We’re taking every measure to resolve the issue and we will be fully operational again as soon as possible.”

Three questions …

(With Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling — the first installment of what will be a weekly Q&A with a prominent member of the sports betting industry)

Q: It’s been two and a half years since regulated sports betting began to spread across the U.S. What grade would you give the growing industry’s approach to responsible gaming, and why?

Whyte: An A for talking about responsible gambling but a C for effort. Far too many companies still only pay lip service to responsible gambling. The real problem is at the state level, where roughly half the states who legalized sports betting since May 2018 did not provide a single cent of their new sports betting tax revenue to prevent or treat gambling problems. And it’s hard for any gambling company to truly provide “responsible gambling” when the state government doesn’t provide any help for people who suffer from this often devastating disorder.

Q: Have you seen any indications of an increase in bettors who seek help and identify sports betting as their primary form of gambling?

Whyte: While calls, texts and chats to our National Problem Gambling Helpline are increasing, it’s still probably too soon for most new sports gambling problems to surface. People with gambling problems often persist in playing because they tell themselves they are “one bet away” from winning everything back.

Q: What would you like to see in terms of content from media outlets, many of which — including ESPN — have partnered with sports betting operators?

Whyte: There is a great opportunity for sports media and sports betting companies to help promote responsible gambling as part of the brand in a positive, even fun way. Avoid glamorizing gambling as a good way to make money, since most bettors will lose more than they win over time. And most importantly, promote that hope and help is available for problem gamblers and their families. You can call (800) 522-4700 or go to 24/7, it’s toll-free and confidential.

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