By Frank Pingue
TORONTO (Reuters) - The Pittsburgh Steelers can count on many Las Vegas casinos to be waving "Terrible Towels" on Sunday since most of the millions of dollars being wagered on the Super Bowl is banking on a Green Bay Packers victory.
The point-spread for the February 6 game in Dallas has remained steady over the last week and the Nevada gambling community is clearly backing the Packers, who are 2.5-point favorites.
MGM Resorts International, which operates 10 sports books on the Las Vegas Strip, said about 70 percent of the money bet so far in its casinos is for a Packers victory.
"We could use the Steelers to win, but that could change on the turn of a dime if someone pays the Steelers for quite a bit of money as well," Jay Rood, race and sports book director at MGM Resorts, told Reuters in a telephone interview on Friday.
"We'll probably take a little more Steelers money over the next 24 hours or so but I think we'll still be Steelers fans come Sunday."
While 80 percent of the Super Bowl gambling is expected to take place over the next two days, the casinos do not expect to be trading their "Terrible Towels" for foam cheese hats, which many Green Bay fans wear because of the cheese production in the Wisconsin area.
Pittsburgh's fan base are known throughout the NFL for frantically waving small gold dish towels, known as "Terrible Towels", during Steeler games.
"It still might be a little premature because 80 percent of the action usually comes during the last two days," said Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports book operations for the Las Vegas Hilton.
"But it's looking like we're going to need the Steelers as most of the money so far has been on the Packers."
Every year, the NFL's championship game creates a gambling frenzy in Nevada that is considered by some to be a bellwether for the broader economy. The state handled $82 million in Super Bowl bets last year when the New Orleans Saints played the Indianapolis Colts.
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, wagers on this year's Super Bowl are expected to surpass last year's but will be hard pressed to top the record $94.5 million set five years ago when the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks.
"Visitation for this year is going to be up ... so that should translate into an increased handle over last year," said Mike Lawton, senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
"But people aren't spending as much as they did in 2006 so I would say it would be a stretch to say we are going to see that level."
While plenty of money will be wagered this weekend on the Super Bowl, only a portion of the funds will be devoted to the actual winner.
Aside from more traditional bets, gamblers can take a chance at proposition bets, like deciding whether the combined number of Pittsburgh and Green Bay field goals will be more than the total goals scored between soccer teams Chelsea and Liverpool in the English Premier League on Sunday.
There is even a wager based on whether Miami Heat forward LeBron James's point total on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers will be more than the points scored by the Steelers.
A more unique proposition bet from online gambling site sportsbook.com allows bets on whether Christina Aguilera will hold the note "brave" longer than six seconds when she sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the kickoff.
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)