The man responsible for creating over 400 Super Bowl prop bets explains how they are picked and why they are so popular

  • Bettors in Las Vegas will have hundreds of betting options on Super Bowl Sunday thanks to the popularity of prop bets across the gambling world.
  • In a recent interview, Business Insider spoke with Jay Kornegay from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, where he is responsible for overseeing over 400 prop bets for the Super Bowl.
  • Kornegay shared details of what makes a good prop bet and why they have become such a hit in the gambling community.

Super Bowl Sunday is undoubtedly the best gambling day of the year.

With literally hundreds of betting options in Las Vegas, and thousands more at offshore books online, there’s no shortage of ways to bet on the big game.

Jay Kornegay is VP of Race and Sports Operations at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and is responsible for overseeing the creation of over 400 Super Bowl proposition bets. He recently spoke with Business Insider about the behind-the-scenes work it takes to create so many betting options for players, the ingredients to a good prop bet, and the worst beat his book ever took on a Super Bowl proposition.

Tyler Lauletta: So before we get too deep into things – you’re offering over 400 prop bets on the Super Bowl this year?

Jay Kornegay: Yep. We have over 400 propositions which translates to just over 14,000 betting options.

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The big board at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, lit up with every option bettors have on staking money on Super Bowl LII. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Lauletta: Right because a few of those – most receiving yards, most rushing yards, etc. – have multiple betting options. So over 14,000 possible bets on the board.

Kornegay: Yeah, well, I would say just over 400 props. As far as options – some of the books are stating now that they have over 13,000 betting options because of a few propositions like – “How many points will the Eagles score?”

Well, you have 0, 2, 3, 4, 5… all the way up to 60 or more! We just count that as one.

Lauletta: When does the process of putting the list together begin? You have so many player-specific props – is that just the day after the conference championships?

Kornegay: No, we actually start setting the template a few weeks out of the conference championship games. We have the email format, a customers’ sheet, and we have to program these into the boards, and as you know, it has to be 100% correct. All the disclaimers and betting numbers have to be correct, or all of a sudden people are betting the wrong number.

It’s a process, and there’s a lot of legwork involved here, so we try to get a head start on it and get as much prep work as we can done before the teams are decided.

Lauletta: How many people are a part of the process of determining the lines/numbers?

Kornegay: Well, there’s about seven or eight of us that work on it at some level.

Lauletta: That’s shockingly low to me. In my head there was a board room with like 30 of you all divvying up different sections. What’s your schedule like for putting the props together for Super Bowl Sunday?

Kornegay: Well, when we start, we break down each team and set it up with the star players and even secondary players, and we’ll just start going down the list and start making props up. But all that is just the legwork that leads up to setting the actual number for the prop.

Then once the teams are determined, we still have Monday to fill in a lot of blanks, and then Tuesday and Wednesday is all about figuring out what all the numbers should be. Thursday is when we have to put all the numbers in, and like I said – you gotta put it on email, you gotta put it on our customer sheets, you gotta put it on the computer, you gotta put it on the board.

I wish we could just enter it in one time, but it’s not like that – everybody still want’s their sheet. It’s a 30-page document filled with a lot of information.

Lauletta: When did prop bets begin to take off for you? It feels like they’re a fairly new phenomena with the Super Bowl.

Kornegay: As far as I know the props have been around for the Super Bowl for a long time – I mean as far back as I can remember, even before my time. But it never really took off until that one proposition – Will “Refrigerator” Perry score a touchdown? – and that was in 1985. Back in those days they probably only had like one page of props and they were really basic.

When we put up the 49ers and Chargers in the 1994 Super Bowl, we put up “Who would score more points on Super Bowl Sunday – Michael Jordan or the 49ers?” and that was like the first cross-sports prop, where we took other events that were happening and connected it to something that could happen in the Super Bowl. And it got a lot of attention and publicity, and people loved it, so we started adding more props.

The Niners were a 19.5-point favourite or something like that – there was no doubt who was going to win the game. So we took those 20 or 30 props that we were having, and we bumped it up to like 100. And it just took off like wildfire. People loved it.

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Just a sample of the cross-sports prop bets available at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Lauletta: How do you go about putting together a cross-sports prop? There’s so many options to draw from – what are the ingredients to making a good one?

Kornegay: Well we are always thinking “What is going to create the most interest?” Because we don’t want to do all this work for a proposition that nobody bets – even though they bet every proposition on the board. But we want to make sure it gets some interest so we usually try to get some key players.

You can go on forever with those kinds of props. I could put “Total number of yards by both teams vs. goals by the Los Angeles Kings” and make the yards -782. You know what I mean?

Lauletta: [Laughs] And you could do that with every NHL team if you wanted to.

Kornegay: Yeah! So it goes on forever. You can do that for thousands of props. But time is limited. The only thing that restricts us from putting up a thousand props is time.

Lauletta: What rules are there pertaining to prop bets? As I understand it, in Las Vegas props can only be booked for outcomes determined on the field of play, so you can’t put a number on the national anthem, even though that one always gets a lot of press.

Kornegay: Yep. And when lawmakers talk about that- especially in today’s climate, when there’s the possibility of sports gaming expansion across the country – that frustrates us a little bit too. They hear these crazy propositions that aren’t available in Nevada, and legislators say “Oh, they shouldn’t be putting a prop on ‘Will Justin Timberlake have a hat on at halftime?'”

Well, no, we don’t have that in Nevada because of regulations. Our regulations state that it has to be an official result. You can’t find out if Justin Timberlake wore a hat in the box score.

Lauletta: So as a general rule, it has to be an outcome you can find in the box score?

Kornegay: There has to be an official result for it. Whether it’s in the box score, the game summary, or the game recap.

Lauletta: And that’s why you can book, say, the coin flip, but not the national anthem?

Kornegay: Right. There’s no official result for the national anthem. It’s very subjective – sometimes they start humming. Not to mention, her friends and everybody in that rehearsal studio know exactly how long it’s going to be.

But is it the last note? The beginning of the last note? When do you stop the clock? I don’t know. There’s no official result.

Lauletta: Of your total handle for the Super Bowl, how much of it will be from prop bets as opposed to spread bets, moneyline bets, and the over/under on the game?

Kornegay: The props are actually more popular than the game itself. The props will be about 60% of the total handle. Because what a typical fan will do is they will make their largest bet on the game itself, and then they will make 6-10 prop bets.

People really enjoy them. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a huge part of Super Bowl weekend in Nevada. Back in the day they used to call all these sucker bets!

But people have become more and more comfortable betting these each and every year for a couple reasons – they’re a lot more educated than they were 20 or 30 years ago, and they have had a lot of success. We had safeties in three consecutive Super Bowls, and they got overtime last year – people love that. The entertainment value of betting the propositions is just tremendous.

Lauletta: Do you know the hardest you’ve ever been hit by a prop bet? That first-score safety in the Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl jumps out to me as potentially rough for you.

Kornegay: Yeah, that was the worst one probably – when they snapped it over Manning’s head. The safety to be the first score was like 50/1 or something like that. And it also hit defensive score, Seattle to score first – it was so bad. I got texts from my senior executives like, “Uhhh, that probably wasn’t good, huh?”

It was a healthy six figures.

Lauletta: Do you have any favourite props this year?

Kornegay: There’s a ton of great bets available this year. My team – Ed, Jeff, John and Randy – just did a tremendous job of doing all this legwork and they really were the creators of a lot of different propositions and deserve a lot of credit for it.

We’re really excited about the Vegas Knights props because the town is just going nuts over them. We know the locals in town are going to be betting on those propositions. So we’re really interested to see how that money flows in on those.

Lauletta: What makes a good prop bet?

Kornegay: I just think for us we just want it to create some interest. We want it to get a lot of attention. We want them to play it. We want them to have fun with it.

I think, first, we certainly want them to understand it. Then we want them to play it and enjoy rooting for it, one side or the other. It’s a lot of fun. You know the over/under jersey number for the player to score the first touchdown is 32.5, and it’s so funny because you’ll hear people saying “I bet the Patriots, but I need Blount to score here!”

You just hear a lot of that. We just want people to have a good time, and they usually do.