Online sports books that service North America are expecting Super Bowl Sunday to bring them more wagers than any other event in history. This year they're offering bettors more options than ever and guaranteeing flawless service, even with the threat of hack attacks at an all-time high.
Gambling industry analysis and consulting firm Christiansen Capital Advisors predicts that $375 million to $400 million will be wagered online worldwide on the Super Bowl this year, $25 million to $50 million more than just two years ago. Land-based sports books in Nevada, meanwhile, seemed to have peaked in 1998 when they handled a combined $77.2 million on the Denver-Green Bay game in San Diego. But from 1999 on, the Nevada books have stagnated around the $70 million mark, while online wagering continues to grow.
BoDog.com's operations manager, Robert Gillespie, expects his company to easily trump its figures for last year's game. "Based on our growth, we're about 180 percent over last year, so I expect this year to be about triple last year," he said. "I expect the amount on the Super Bowl to be inline with what we'd see on a full football Sunday in October, November or December. On a per-game basis, it's 14 to 15 times bigger than your average football game."
Gillespie said that one of the biggest differences from last year is the number of proposition bets the company is offering this year on things such as kickoffs and individual player statistics.
Simon Noble, CEO of BetWWTS.com in Antigua, said his company "fully expects to exceed $1.5 million in wagers on the game itself on Super Bowl Sunday alone." Like most books, BetWWTS favors New England by 7 and sets the over/under line at 37 ½.
BetWWTS has also seen an increased interest among its customers in non-traditional bets. Among over 100 betting options, BetWWTS is accepting bets on who scores the first touchdown, who wins the coin toss and what television ratings the event draws.
Sportsbook.com offers 618 different ways to bet on Super Bowl Sunday, including the yardage of the shortest field goal, and whether Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme will outperform Patriots quarterback Tom Brady or whether the Panthers' Stephen Davis will rush for more yards than the Patriots' Antowain Smith. Sportsbook.com also features hybrid Super Bowl bets that depend on other sporting events. For example: Will Steve Smith have more receiving yards than Vijay Singh's 4th round score? Will Arsenal and Manchester United score more points or New England more touchdowns?
BetonSports.com probably leads the pack with the most variety, offering over 750 options. CEO David Carruthers said the group will be using every one of its 2,500 employees to insure that its Internet and phone services run smoothly.
Operators whose main customers are located outside of North America are not likely to experience such a dramatic increase in betting for just one game. U.K.-based betting exchange Betfair, arguably the most popular betting site on the net, has not seen--and does not expect to see--a surge in betting for Super Bowl Sunday. The company has so far taken £800,000 worth of bets and offers 20 different options on the game.
One difference this year is operators having to cope with increased security threats. In the last few months hackers have regularly launched distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on gambling sites. The culprits attempt to shut down operators' networks by flooding them with ungodly amounts of fake traffic. They then send e-mails demanding a large ransom to cease the attack. There have been several reports of betting sites being shut down for many hours and even reports of a few sites giving in to extortionist demands.
Reuters reported that another wave of attacks has come in time for the Super Bowl. An anonymous Curacao-based operator told the news service, "They essentially said 'pay up or you will go down for the Super Bowl."
The attacker in this case demanded that $30,000 be sent via Western Union.
Gillespie said BoDog.com is prepared for DDoS attacks and has taken several precautions. "We've done an awful lot," Gillespie said. "In fact, we're under attack right now, but the Web site is not being affected at all. We've got several security firms online, and we've spent probably half a million dollars on equipment in the last four months. We've actually got some of the best security staff in North America that will be in our offices on Super Bowl Sunday to be around just in case anything does happen."
Carruthers is also certain that Sunday will go smoothly.
"I can tell you that BetonSports have deployed several measures to insure that it can deliver its product to its customers," Carruthers said. "BetonSports will resist and will not under any circumstances submit to blackmail and pay any blackmail demands it may or may not receive from cyber-terrorists."