Monday night’s controversial touchdown call that gave the Seattle Seahawks a 14-12 victory over the Green Bay Packers had an immediate impact for gamblers.
If the Hail Mary pass by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson would have been ruled an interception by Packers safety M.D. Jennings, Green Bay — 3½ point favorites — would have won by five, covering the spread.
Instead, the replacement officials’ call that Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate had possession shifted all those who bet on the Packers to those who took the underdog Seahawks.
“Most of the customers in the sportsbook were not happy with the final call,” said John Avello, director of the race and sportsbook at the Wynn in Las Vegas. “The shift was 100 percent. After the (Seahawks) score, all bets were reversed.”
Avello’s best guess as to how much money was shifted worldwide on the call? $150 million in total bets worldwide.
Jeff Sherman, assistant director of the race and sportsbook at the Las Vegas Hotel, says he estimates that the game shifted $15 million in Nevada alone and also concurs with Avello that the worldwide number, including offshore sportsbooks and in Europe, is worth about 10 times more.
Those who take bets online estimated the shift in money was even greater.
Mike Perry, spokesman for betting site Sportsbook.ag, told ESPN.com his estimate in the money swing on the call at the end of the game is closer to between $200 million and $250 million.
Perry said that 70 to 80 percent of the money on his site was put on the Packers, which is in line with the percentage bet in Vegas. At Mandalay Bay, the sportsbook took in about $500,000 in total bets, with about 85 percent of the money on the Packers.
Oddsmaker Danny Sheridan, who sets the lines for USA Today, had the highest estimate of those surveyed by ESPN.com. Sheridan said Tuesday morning that he believes that $1 billion in total money changed hands with the touchdown call.
While there has been no way to handicap the exact part that replacement officials play in spreads, Avello says that it’s not the first time this year that spreads have been altered by bad calls.
“It’s the first call that has directly affected the outcome, but there have been many that have affected the outcome or the spread directly,” he said.
The call didn’t just have an immediate impact on gamblers, it also impacted the Packers’ Super Bowl odds. After Monday night’s game, the Las Vegas Hotel has changed the odds for the Packers to win the Super Bowl from 7-1 Monday to 9-1 Tuesday.