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Super Bowl 50: A Game Of Numbers02:51
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Betting sheets like this one from the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino allow bettors to out their money on anything and everything related to Sunday's game. (Photo Illustration by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Betting sheets like this one from the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino allow bettors to out their money on anything and everything related to Sunday's game. (Photo Illustration by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
This article is more than 3 years old.

Geoff Freeman, the President of the American Gaming Association, estimates that citizens of this country will bet $4.2 billion on Sunday’s football game.

Kostya Kennedy, writing for SI.com on Tuesday, figures that only about $115 million of that $4.2 billion will be wagered in Las Vegas.

The other $3-whatever billion is being bet at the tavern on the corner or by your kids on their phones. On at least one of the online sites, they can bet there will be an earthquake during the game.

Some people will bet that the Panthers will win, and some will bet on the Broncos. Even if the game turns out to be a mismatch, they, like the twisted people who’ve bet they’ll be an earthquake, will have to wait at least a little while to know whether they’ve won or lost.

Some people will bet that the Panthers will win, and some will bet on the Broncos. Even if the game turns out to be a mismatch, they, like the twisted people who’ve bet they’ll be an earthquake, will have to wait at least a little while to know whether they’ve won or lost.

People desperate for instant gratification or instant disappointment will bet on the coin flip. As soon as the referee calls out “Heads!” or “Tails,” in every lounge in Las Vegas, “a huge roar goes up.”

Jay Rood told Kennedy that. He runs the sports book at the Mirage. The roar sounds like delight. The under-groan, which is a word I just made up, sounds like despair. Or, if not despair, at least temporary disappointment. The bettors who have guessed wrong are off to a bad start. They must hope they guessed right when they bet on which team would record the first sack, or which team would first be penalized or where the clock will be when, for the first time in the game, somebody points to the sky to thank someone or something for whatever just happened down below.

Some of these bets are riskier than others, but they are all risky. That’s the nature of gambling. No bookmaker is going to take the other side if you want to bet that there will be a kickoff.

Which is why I’m limiting my involvement with numbers related to Sunday’s game. Rather than wagering, I’m just wondering how we got to some of the numbers provided this week by a site called WalletHub. Without my even asking, they have told me that the stadium in which the Super Bowl will be played cost $1.2 billion to build, that airfares to the Bay Area are up some 250 percent pre-Super Bowl, and that the people watching the game on television because they can’t afford that airfare will consume more than 8 million pounds of guacamole, whether or not there’s an earthquake.

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Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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