Eagles fans exiting Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday evening and making their way a half-mile across the parking complex to Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia had a couple of reasons to be exuberant.
One, of course, was the home team clinching a trip to the Super Bowl with a 31-7 trouncing of the injury-ravaged San Francisco 49ers, putting the Birds just one win away from the franchise’s second championship in six seasons.
But the other reason quite a few of them were fired up was that they were about to cash their winning tickets at the FanDuel Sportsbook on the Live! property. Whether they bet on Philadelphia on the spread or the moneyline against San Francisco, or they had made futures wagers before or during the season on the team to win the NFC, the Eagles-backing bettors leaving the stadium were all winners.
“It was quite the scene,” Live! Sportsbook General Manager Bryan Newman told Penn Bets. “We had a nice rush of people before the game, during the game, and after the game. And after the game, it was chaos. It was unbelievable. We actually saw a few guests jumping on counters and tables.
“And the payout line for claiming Eagles tickets was very long. It took a long time to get your money.”
When asked to compare the scene Sunday with what he saw the previous Saturday when the Eagles bullied the New York Giants in the divisional round, Newman said there was no comparison.
“We thought the Giants game really was the peak of what we would see from an NFL game day, but this was a whole new level,” Newman said. “We saw record crowds in our Sports & Social [sports bar] venue. Our sportsbook had a great energy throughout the night. It gives you goose bumps to even think about it.”
How huge will Super Bowl handle be?
The Eagles-49ers NFC title game was, in fact, the most wagered-on single game in the history of the Live! Philadelphia property, even exceeding the handle on the last two Super Bowls — by some 50%, according to Newman.
But it seems safe to assume that record will be short-lived. Sunday, Feb. 12, brings the Super Bowl, always the most watched and most bet one-day sporting event of the year. This year, for the first time since sports betting was legalized in states other than Nevada, the Eagles are one of the two teams competing for the Lombardi Trophy.
And for good measure, Eagles fans will have the opportunity to bet against Andy Reid, now the coach of the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs, but for 14 seasons the forever-falling-just-short coach in Philly. It’s not that Reid is disliked in Philadelphia; quite the opposite. But fans and bettors might have that extra fraction of a percent of motivation wanting the championship count to be Eagles 2, Reid 1, and not the other way around.
The game will assuredly have the biggest Super Bowl handle seen at all sportsbooks, retail or digital, in eastern Pennsylvania. And at Live! in South Philly, they know darned well the betting action will be every bit as lopsided as the final scores in the last two Eagles games.
“So far, it’s been all Eagles action,” Newman said early in the week.
All? Literally every single bet on a Super Bowl side has been on the Birds?
“I would at least say almost all,” Newman said, “and maybe even all that we’ve seen so far.”
Underdogs in LII, Eagles short favorite this time
It’s fair to wonder then if the folks at Live! would be silently rooting for the Chiefs to win. As was the case with most sportsbooks, the FanDuel book moved the line in the Eagles’ direction quickly — it opened the Chiefs as 1.5-point favorites and by the next morning had the spread Eagles -2.
Unless the Chiefs now attract heavy action — which they may in some states, but probably not at a sportsbook a stone’s throw from the Linc — an Eagles win will be costly to the house.
“Well, it depends on how you look at it,” Newman said. “Obviously, there are going to be more payouts on the Eagles if they win, but it would be really nice for the property overall if the Eagles win. If they do win, people will be excited. They’ll be coming in, they’ll be having a few drinks at Sports & Social.
“Just by the Eagles being in the Super Bowl, it’s going to draw more people to the property, and a win is a good way to keep people on property. And you don’t have to watch from the sportsbook or the bar. You can be at a table or a slot machine, and there will be a TV anywhere you look with the game on.”
For those who want to focus purely on the game, the sportsbook is partnering with the Sports & Social bar/restaurant/lounge for a Super Bowl viewing party. “Tables are filling up fast,” Newman noted. Those interested in booking space should email [email protected] or call 267-682-7422 sooner rather than later.
Just be prepared for the likelihood that if you reserve a table and the Eagles win the big game, some raucous fan or bettor may be standing on that table by night’s end.
Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images