The last game of the 2023 NFL season was expected to be one of the best games in recent years, with the defending champions Kansas City Chiefs facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa, Florida, in Super Bowl LV. In a clash of generations between star quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, the Bucs blew the Chiefs 31-09, to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time since 2002. But it wasn’t a close match, as the Bucs defense had an overwhelming performance, holding the Chiefs’ offense to just 3 field goals, and Tom Brady went on to win his seventh Super Bowl ring.
But the Bucs weren’t the only big winners of the night. According to USBettingReport.com, sports betting is not yet legal in some states like California, but bettors still benefited from new legislations being passed around the country, and were able to cash out big payoffs. One Houston bettor placed a US$3.4 million bet on the Buccaneers’ victory and netted US$3.16 million when they won the game. Besides, US sportsbooks also profited and capped one of their most lucrative football seasons ever.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the regular season with a 11-4 record and a wild card berth. Their postseason campaign marked the first time a team defeated three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks to win the title, as the Bucs beat Drew Brees and the Saints, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and reigning champion Patrick Mahomes.
With a top ranked offense, the Kansas City Chiefs finished the regular season with a league-best 14-2 record, and had great performances in the postseason. However, this playoff run had an impact on the team’s health. After losing right tackle Mitchell Schwartz earlier in the season due to a back injury, left tackle Eric Fisher left the AFC Championship game with a torn Achilles, forcing him to also miss the Super Bowl. Additionally, Patrick Mahomes suffered a toe injury in the Divisional Round, which continued to afflict him throughout the postseason.
Kansas City entered the game favoured to win, but a brilliant display by the Bucs’ defense rendered the Chiefs’ efforts powerless. Buccaneers’ pass rushers took advantage of a depleted offensive line to record the Super Bowl’s highest quarterback pressure rate, making Mahomes’ job a lot tougher; he was sacked 3 times, threw 2 interceptions and wasn’t able to have a single snap without being pressured or forced off the pocket by the Bucs’ linebackers. Kansas City’s receivers had a terrible night as well, with little yardage and many dropped passes. The Chiefs’ defense also underperformed, committing 11 penalties for 120 yards, including a record eight penalties for 95 yards in the first half. The game marked the first time in Patrick Mahomes’ career, including high school and college games, that his team finished a game without scoring a single touchdown.
In his first season away from New England, Tom Brady had a much easier task and led his team to a comfortable win. Capitalizing on the Chiefs’ penalties and mistakes, Tampa took a dominant 21-6 lead at half time, and remained absolute throughout the game. Brady’s partnership with Rob Gronkowski remained prolific, as the tight end received two touchdowns and recorded 67 yards. Leonard Fournette’s performance was also important to the team’s victory, finishing the game with 16 carries, 89 yards and one rushing touchdown. Brady finished the game with 201 yards, 21 completed passes and three touchdowns, to win his fifth Super Bowl MVP award, and join Peyton Manning as the only two players to have won a Super Bowl with two different franchises. He reached his seventh Super Bowl win, more than any NFL team, and became the oldest player to win the title.
Even though the Vince Lombardi Trophy is a most coveted award, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren’t the only ones celebrating on February 7. Sportsbooks all around the country profited in one of the most lucrative seasons in football betting history. Just with Nevada sportsbooks, more than US$136 million was bet, and the state’s books netted US$12.6 million on the Buccaneers’ win over the Chiefs, according to a report released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The amount wagered was 12% less than last year’s Super Bowl, but still one of the largest since the state began tracking Super Bowl bets.
States that recently launched legal sports betting markets also reported wins on the Super Bowl. New Jersey had a 116% increase from last year’s game, with almost US$120 million betted. Following net losses on their first Super Bowls with legal betting, sportsbooks in New Jersey reported a net US$11 million. In Illinois, US$45 million was bet and books netted around US$7 million on the state’s first Super Bowl with legal betting. And sportsbooks in Pennsylvania reported a net of almost US$10 million with the Buccaneers covering the 3-point spread.
According to a director of a major bookmaking company, not many longshots bets happened this year. One of the few to come through was Patrick Mahomes throwing zero touchdown passes. A bettor in New Jersey placed a US$3,000 bet on the Chiefs’ quarterback not throwing for a score, at 15-1 odds, to win a net US$45,000.
The largest bet placed on this year’s game came from a furniture entrepreneur from Texas. He flew from Houston to Colorado Springs, to place a US$3.46 million bet on the Bucs’ win. With Tampa Bay triumph, he netted US$3.16 million with the wager. This was the second largest placed bet in Super Bowl history, the largest being a US$3.5 million bet on the New Orleans Saints victory on Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.
At the end of the fourth quarter, one of the few fans allowed in the stadium streaked across the field before being tackled by security guards. And he had a reason for that… he placed a wager on a prop bet on the probability of a fan storming the field, with a +750 for it to happen. He would have won US$300,000, had he not spoken to the press about it. According to the New York Post, a spokesman for the company behind the prop bet stated they were already conducting an investigation, and would likely cancel the bet.