Decent number of bettors pick Browns to win it all

ByDavid Purdum ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Nearly 1,000 people have bet on the Cleveland Browns to win the Super Bowl this offseason at MGM sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

That seems risky.

Caesars Palace has accepted close to 750 bets on the Browns, and the ticket count on Cleveland at sportsbook operator CG Technology is approaching 500 and includes a $1,000 bet at 175-1 and a $500 bet at 200-1.

"City of champions, right?" MGM assistant manager Jeff Stoneback said with a laugh. "We've had the Cavs; the Indians are good. Why not the Browns?"

For the record, the Cleveland Cavaliers began the season as the second favorites to win the NBA title, and the Cleveland Indians started at 20-1 to win the World Series. The Browns, on the other hand, opened at 200-1 to win the Super Bowl. No other team was worse than 60-1, when the Westgate SuperBook first posted Super Bowl odds in January.

Since the Cleveland franchise was reborn in 1999, the Browns have had two winning seasons. Yet, heading into this season, the Browns have attracted more bets to win the Super Bowl than 11 other teams at CG Technology, including the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles. They have nearly the same amount of bets as the Washington Redskins, a playoff team from last season.

The New England Patriots are the consensus favorites to win the Super Bowl and have attracted almost four times as many bets as the Browns at CG Technology, but the Browns have nearly twice as many bets as the Tennessee Titans, the team with the fewest bets to win it all.

Overall, the vast majority of bets on the Browns to win the Super Bowl are tiny. Some were even done as a joke, such as Chris Hovan's $5 ticket placed at Bally's during an annual March Madness trip to Las Vegas with friends.

"It was made strictly as a joke," Hovan, a 35-year-old maintenance worker in Brooklyn, Ohio, told ESPN. "I just wanted to place the ticket on the wall of my bar in the basement. I've been a season-ticket holder for 14 years, and I know that the Browns are going to be horrible again this year."

Cleveland's season-win total, at 4.5, is the lowest of any team in the NFL. CG Technology initially took enough money on the under to cut the total down to 4.

"We then took an over bet, the biggest bet we've taken [on Cleveland's win total], $3,200 on over 4," CG Technology vice president of race and sports Jason Simbal said. "That was from a pretty smart guy."

Simbal said his book had taken 144 over bets on the Browns' win total and 99 on the under.

The Browns winning the Super Bowl is the worst-case scenario entering the season at Station Casinos' sportsbook.

"They're our biggest loser," said Art Manteris, vice president of race and sports for Station, "but I can promise you I'm not sweating them."