As we pointed out Thursday night after 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh declined a safety that would have allowed San Francisco to cover the spread against Seattle, gamblers who had money on the game went ballistic.
It was the right move for the team, of course, as Harbaugh said afterward: "[I thought] that we could just knee on the ball and have the game be over. Otherwise, they'll onsides kick it and you give them a chance to win the game."
But Harbaugh's decision, according to pregame.com (via Deadspin), impacted as much as $75 million worth of bets.
Here's how it stands if you bet on the game (and depending on where you placed it, the Seahawks were getting between 7 and 9 points), via pregame.com:
49ers -7 had money refunded (but would have won with the safety)
49ers -7.5 or -8 lost (but would have won with the safety)
Seahawks +7 had money refunded (but would have lost with the safety)
Seahawks +7.5 or +8 won (but would have lost with the safety)
“Overall, it's safe to say that coach Harbaugh's unconventional decision resulted in a $75 million dollar swing worldwide with the bettors overall losing that amount [due to 65% of the action being on the 49ers] and the bookies overall winning that amount” [said R.J. Bell].
Bovada, meanwhile, didn't see much of a swing.
“It seems controversy has been the theme in the NFL this season when it comes to betting on it, and [Thursday] night once again a call at the end of the game affected the point spread directly,” said Kevin Bradley, the sports book manager for Bovada. “With the spread moving between 7.5 and 8.5 all day yesterday, the safety would have allowed the Niners to cover winning by 9. However this game was pretty evenly bet, so we did not see as much of a backlash as we did last time Seattle covered on the last-play touchdown call against Green Bay. Safety or no safety was not a huge swing for the book either way.”
Still, the lesson, as always: Gambling on sports is maddening.
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