The Super Bowl’s Great Play Fake, Punters Warned About Off-the-Books Betting

If you can bury your disappointment at not seeing ace quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady—and pop diva Janet Jackson–in action at this weekend’s Super Bowl LV1 (56) then you may take some small comfort in not falling for the scammers who are out there trying to play fake the millions of punters gambling on the match-up between the L.A. Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.

According to some data crunchers, more than US$7 billion (£5.14bn/€6.14bn) will be wagered on the Super Sunday American football championship final being played tomorrow (Feb. 13) at the Rams’ SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., in front of 70,000 fans.

It’s estimated that only around 27 per cent of these bets will be placed with regulated sportsbooks.

The remaining US$5.1 billion (£3.75bn/€4.47bn) will be gambled via unlicensed “offshore” sites.

Such is the jeopardy that New York State Attorney General Letitia James has even issued a public caution to sports fans to be “aware of deceptive online sports betting companies”.

With her newly regulated state already setting a record US$1.6 billion (£1.17bn/€1.4bn) sportsbook handle in January, its first month of operations, James is trying to warn exuberant punters of misleading ads on social media and streaming sites.

“I urge all New Yorkers watching the Super Bowl and betting online for the first time to be careful — don’t let scammers game your gamble,” she urges.

It’s very important to read the fine print on bonuses and other promotions to help prevent “predatory” behaviour from sports betting platforms and ensure the protection of the consumers, said James.

The US$7 billion Super Bowl tag does not include informal bets between friends or work colleagues.

The Los Angeles Rams are 1/2 favourites to take this year’s Vince Lombardi Trophy.

“Defense” Wins the Super Bowl

Their opponents, the Cincinnati Bengals–who have never won the Super Bowl, twice being losing finalists to the San Francisco 49ers–began week two of the regular season as 200-1 outsiders, while the Rams started at 20-1.

With odds like these, somebody, somewhere is going to make a killing.

But the guaranteed winners on Sunday are going to be the states with legal sports betting, who are likely to generate around US$35 million (£25.73bn/€30.71bn) in betting tax receipts.

Both teams have reached the final with far from impressive regular season records: the Bengals going 10-7 in the regular season and the Rams 10-5.

The Rams have four previous Super Bowl appearances; with only one win, 23-16 over the Tennessee Titans, in Super Bowl XXXIV (34) in 2000, in their St Louis avatar.

With both teams missing key offensive players–Tyler Higbee of the Rams and C.J. Uzomah of the Tigers–because of injuries, this observer will go on received wisdom that the best “defense” wins the Super Bowl and predicts victory for the Rams.

Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will perform at the famous halftime show, immortalised by Janet Jackson’s 2004 “Nipplegate” fail.

According to third-party ticket seller SeatGeek, the average resale price for a Super Bowl ticket was US$8,700 (£6,400/€7,630) as of Wednesday, with the cheapest ticket going for US$4,450 (£3,270/€3,900).

A 30-second advertising slot for this year’s broadcast, expected worldwide audience 150 million, costs up to US$6.5 million (£4.77m/€5.7m).

Beyond the hype—the soccer World Cup final, for example, pulls in two billion viewers—and the stats, and whatever the result, one can only hope for a better game that the Rams’ last Super Sunday outing in 2019 when they were defeated 13-3 by the Patriots — the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history.

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