LAS VEGAS — Sports books in Nevada made Green Bay a slight favorite in the Super Bowl over Pittsburgh on Sunday night based on the Packers’ popularity among bettors during the past few weeks.
The Glantz-Culver line made the Packers an early 2½-point favorite and put the total score at 45½ points for the Feb. 6 game in Arlington, Texas.
Jay Kornegay, executive director of the race and sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton, said his book made the Packers a 2-point favorite and quickly moved the line to 2½ points as bettors gambled on Green Bay.
"That steam engine is still rolling," Kornegay said. "It’s going to be a very interesting Super Bowl because you have two heavyweights as far as popularity goes."
Oddsmaker Andrew Patterson of Las Vegas Sports Consultants said the firm, which provides betting lines to most casinos in Nevada, made the Packers a 1½-point favorite to try to encourage action on both teams.
"I think it’s a good number, but a lot of us feel it’s a little high," Patterson said.
The Super Bowl is the most popular betting game of the year for Nevada casinos, which won almost $6.9 million on last year’s game as bettors wagered $82.7 million.
That was up slightly from 2009, and Kornegay said he expects wagers to be up again this year because Green Bay and Pittsburgh have had strong followings.
Pittsburgh is always popular among bettors, and Patterson said that even though Green Bay was a No. 6 seed going into the playoffs, they started the season with the fifth-tightest odds among all NFL teams to win the title.
More than any other game, sports books say the line on the Super Bowl is determined by how teams performed in their most recent game. Oddmakers say average fans bet far more money on the Super Bowl than frequent bettors — making common perception more important in setting betting lines.
Both Pittsburgh and Green Bay got off to quick starts in their respective conference championship games on Sunday, then had to stave off rallies.
Kornegay said that even though the games were similar, Green Bay bettors weren’t likely to be discouraged because they still won their bets.
"Even though they didn’t have the flash and the charm that they had the first couple weeks, they still were rewarded by a cover," he said. "They cashed, so they will continue to support them."