Sports Super Bowl Odds History


The concept of the point-spread began over a half century ago and really raised the interest in sports betting. It leveled the playing field; the pointspread became the equalizer. In the 1970s, Bob Martin of the Union Plaza Race and Sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas was the most respected oddsmaker in the gaming industry. A lot of oddsmaking tools used today are credited to Martin.

Oddsmakers are the first to say they are not in the business to predict the outcome of a game, but to divide public opinion of the final outcome. Public opinion is created by the media; newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the Internet. Popularity of well-known teams, superstars and media hype, influence the line in a lot of cases besides statistics and power ratings. Power ratings are based on many statistics taken from offense, defense, special teams, points for, points against, at home and away.

The oddsmaker has to take into account every possible thing which affects the outcome of a game… information such as: quality of the teams, injuries, incentive to win, morale, weather (football), history of the match up, recent and previous records. In a perfect world for the oddsmaker, an equal number of people will bet on each side.

In the 1980s, Roxy Roxborough became the main influence in oddsmaking as the age of technology began. Computers became a force in oddsmaking and changing odds at sportsbooks simultaneously. Roxborough founded Las Vegas Sports Consultants (LVCS) in the 1980s which now has most of the sportsbooks in Las Vegas as clients. LVCS has used computer-generated power ratings and information, so everything is passed along faster.

Certain offshore sportsbooks are taking the lead today and their numbers are probably the most respected. Setting a line and letting the most sophisticated and sharp handicappers play into it, then opening it to the public, gives sportsbooks the most two-way action.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants is the world’s best oddsmaking company and the most respected authority on making the lines. There are 4-5 oddsmakers assigned to make lines for each major sport. Each of these oddsmakers adds different opinions, strengths and weaknesses to the process. They want to create a line that half of the people like to bet one way while the other half will bet the other way.

The opening line is the first line created by the oddsmakers then sent out to the sportsbooks. It starts with each oddsmaker creating a line on every game, based on their own approach. This includes up-to-date power ratings on each team. Power ratings are the oddsmakers view of each team; they are used to calculate a beginning pointspread. The power ratings are adjusted after each game. Non-game factors such as injuries, travel, rest, morale are some of the adjustments used to make an opening line. Recently played games and previous meetings between opponents are also considered. They sit down and come to a consensus line that the more experienced oddsmaker okays before being released to the sportsbooks.

Once the opening line is released, the individual sportsbooks decide if they want to make any adjustments before offering it to the public. Experts working for individual books sometimes will have strong opinions on a game. The purpose of these adjustments is to divide the betting action equally. When the betting begins, sportsbooks can adjust the line at any time. By doing this, they make the team getting less action, more attractive. Moving the NFL Football line can influence how the public bets on a particular game.

Line moves in basketball are more significant than those in football. One starting player being out can influence the “line” and outcome of a game, more than in football.

Written by Mike Anthony for


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