Nevada Sports Books Mourning Rams' Super Bowl Loss

St. Louis Rams fans aren't the only ones mourning their team's loss to the underdog New England Patriots in this year's Super Bowl.

Nevada sports books, which pegged the Rams as 14-point favorites, also posted disappointing results from the game, winning a meager 3.3 percent of the $71.5 million wagered on the game, according to figures released Tuesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Control Board spokesman Frank Streshley said sports books took a big hit in particular from fans who bet on the Patriots to win, with casinos offering anywhere from 4-1 to as much as 6-1 odds on the bet.

The 3.3 percent "hold" margin was the worst since 1998, when casinos kept just 0.6 percent of the money bet on a game that saw the Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24.

The worst year for casinos in the last decade came in 1995, when they lost 0.6 percent of the $69.6 million wagered on a matchup in which the San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers 49-26. That year marked the only net loss for casinos on the game in the last decade.

By comparison, casinos won 16.3 percent of money wagered -- the biggest hold margin in the last decade -- in last year's matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants.

On a more positive note, betting volume on the latest Super Bowl rose 5.6 percent over last year, making it the third most-wagered-on game in the last decade.

The increase was a particularly good sign for Las Vegas, where business fell sharply after Sept. 11 but has rebounded steadily since then.

Bear Stearns analyst Jason Ader said this year's wagering was helped by a quirk of the calendar.

"We believe that wagering volume was impacted this year by calendar separation between the Chinese New Year and the Super Bowl, as these two events fell during the same week last year and caused operators to divide (complimentary) rooms between groups," he wrote in a research note.

The state's major casino operators are MGM Mirage, Mandalay Resort Group, Park Place Entertainment Corp. and Harrah's Entertainment Inc.