Half the fun in Super Bowl wagering these days is betting on and cheering in props. "The propositions are huge," said the MGM-Mirage's Robert Walker, who oversees 13 Nevada bet shops. "We've gotten to the point where the money we take in on propositions equals the game handle," said the Palms' Rich Baccellieri. "There's too many to keep track of." Likewise, "Whatever we put up, they want more," he said. "Right now we have a bunch out linked to Tiger Woods (the world's No.
1 golfer who was tied for the lead going into the fourth round of the Dubai Desert Classic)." Caesars Palace's Chuck Esposito pointed out this is the 20th year of the city's first Super Bowl proposition, which was a simple "yes" or "no" on whether Chicago's William "The Refrigerator" Perry would score a touchdown againt the New England Patriots. He recalled how crestfallen the city's bookmakers were when the Fridge lumbered across the goal line in a Bears' rout. "We had to rethink the situation and our decision was to put up a hundred props, only in our case to link them all to the game," said MGM-Mirage's Robert Walker, who was at the Stardust then.
"There were no hook-ups to other sports." Meanwhile, within a few years, an innovative young bookmaker named Jay Kornegay, now of the Las Vegas Hilton, was beginning to establish a niche at the Imperial Palace. One Super Bowl, Kornegay posted about 150 offerings; he immediately became known as Sin City's king of props. This year, the Hilton hung more than 300, many linked to other sports such as college and pro basketball, pro hockey and soccer. Word behind the scenes is that rivals at other bet shops repeatedly have tried to pilfer Kornegay's scepter, but the crown and title still stick -- even though some books claim 400, 500 or more propositions this time around.
"I don't know what the big deal is, but it seems important to have more propositions and to get them up faster than Jay Kornegay," said one Strip ticketwriter. The Palms' Baccellieri rembered that propositions became known as "the game within a game." "There are so many places for bettors to pick their spots," he said.
Kornegay observed that props have become such an important part of the overall Super Bowl betting picture that after accommodating bettors at the windows, bookmakers spend half of the first quarter holding their collective breath to see how between 20 and 30 props will fare. "Then," he said, "we can take a little break before we start on the second half betting lines," Kornegay said. .
By: Brian Gabrielle