When Jim Harbaugh Declined That Safety Last Night, He Swung Up To $300 Million In Bets
Gamblers are upset, people. During last night's 49ers-Seahawks game, the Seahawks were trailing 13-6 and faced a fourth down backed up near their own end zone. Russell Wilson fired a pass to Ben Obamanu, who came up just inches short of earning a first down. Because there were only 43 seconds to go, the 49ers took over and kneeled the ball for the win.
Except on the play, a Seahawks offensive lineman was called for a chop block, a penalty that he committed in the end zone, therefore making it a safety. In taking the turnover on downs instead of the safety, Harbaugh elected not to take two points and the ball - though we presume that Seattle would have onside kicked it, which, by the way, is allowed on punt-offs.
This, to any half-brained football fan, was the right play. Lineup in the victory formation, walk away with victory. But the spread on last night's game was -7, -7.5 or -8, based on the bookie with whom gamblers bet, and not taking the two points cost many people money. It turns out that the majority of bettors took the 49ers, so those declined two points put approximately $75 million in Vegas' pocket.
"All week, Avello said the 49ers were 7-point favorites. Then yesterday, the line at the Wynn moved by half-points all the way up to 9 before settling back down at 8.
'If Harbaugh took the safety, this would have been an absolute disaster for us,' Avello said. 'We would have had to return all bets at 9, which were almost all Seahawks bets, and everything else from 7 to 8½ were mostly 49ers bets, so they would have won.'
USA Today betting analyst Danny Sheridan told ESPN.com that he estimates that $250 million to $300 million in total was bet worldwide on the game, with an average of 65 percent of the spread bets on the 49ers.
Gambling insider Jimmy Vaccaro, who has been in the industry for 37 years, said that he had never seen a coach take points off the board other than a roughing-the-kicker penalty on a made field goal. But he is well aware of the human element of the game and the gambling world."
You might remember that this isn't the first controversial gambling win for the Seahawks, so it might be in your wallet's best interest to start siding with them more often. Good thing I bet the game at -7.
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