ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
In some places, the Super Bowl is more super than in others, for example, the casinos of Las Vegas. Super Bowl weekend has evolved into an annual pre-Mardi Gras blowout on the Strip, Super Bowl parties, special Super Bowl bets, you name it.
Howard Stutz is a business and gaming reporter for the Las Vegas Review Journal. He joins us now.
How big is this weekend for Las Vegas?
Mr. HOWARD STUTZ (Business and Gaming Reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal): For the first part of the year, it's usually the biggest weekend of that quarter going into March. They're expecting about 300,000 people here. I mean, one line we've heard is more people will be here watching the game than in Phoenix where the game is being played.
SIEGEL: Now, what actually happens for those - this year 300,000 people in Las Vegas?
Mr. STUTZ: Well, it's really a big party. They come here to watch the game. And the casinos will have parties and have the games on in all their sports books. And for some people, a lot of people, it's not who wins, it's about who scores and the points spread on the game, that's really what kind of drives things.
SIEGEL: But beyond the points spread, which is a fairly conventional form of betting on football. There are all kinds of exotic bets surrounding the Super Bowl, I gather.
Mr. STUTZ: Yeah, and there are probably over 100 different proposition wagers on the game. I mean, you can bet on anything from, you know, which quarterback will throw the most, you know, have the most yards passing, Brady or Manning, which receiver will have the most yards and most touchdowns. You can bet on the coin toss, who's going to win the coin toss, the Patriots or the Giants. So it's an elaborate amount of wagers. And it gives a little more action to the game.
SIGEL: Yes, I read of an over under bet on the jersey numeral of the first player to score a touchdown. You could bet on that at one point.
Mr. STUTZ: You can bet on a lot of different things. One of the wagers, I think, this weekend is will the total number of quarterback sacks equal or be greater than the number of goals scored in the Montreal Canadiens' New York Rangers' hockey game on Sunday. So, I mean, there's just a lot of different wagers. And in Nevada, the casinos are talking about that maybe over $100 million will be wagered on the Super Bowl this year, which would be the most ever.
SIEGEL: How does $100 million - I mean, is there a bigger weekend, typically - I mean, is Thanksgiving weekend or Christmas, are those bigger weekends than the Super Bowl weekend?
Mr. STUTZ: Well, this is just one event, and it's one aspect of the wagering. New Year's Eve is obviously always the biggest weekend in Las Vegas. A bigger event in terms of sports wagering is always the NCAA basketball tournament, especially the first week, you know, where you have 64 teams and, you know, all those games going on that weekend. That's usually - actually a bigger betting handle than the Super Bowl.
SIEGEL: So as an economic indicator in your neck of the woods, this Super Bowl weekend looks reasonably strong?
Mr. STUTZ: Very strong. It's just a weekend that you get a lot of people here, which also there are a lot of people that - they say a lot of people that are betting on the Super Bowl, they're also playing other games, they're playing slot machines and they're playing blackjack. They're spending money in restaurants, so that's what the town is all about.
SIEGEL: Well, Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, thanks a lot for talking with us.
Mr. STUTZ: Thank you, and I hope you have a good weekend.
SIEGEL: By the way, here's a measure of how big the Super Bowl is nationwide. According to the Nielsen ratings, more than 140 million people watch at least part of the game. In 2004, the total was 143.6 million, that was Super Bowl XXXVIII, New England versus Carolina. It was also the last Super Bowl in a presidential election year, and that November, Bush and Kerry did not do as well as the Patriots and the Panthers did. Only 123.5 million Americans voted.
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