The Quartz guide to Super Bowl 2013 betting

Unsure how to face the odds of the Super Bowl? We’re here to help.
Unsure how to face the odds of the Super Bowl? We’re here to help.
Image: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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With tomorrow’s Super Bowl XLVII, even the non-sports fans in the office have become interested in the financial aspects of American football’s biggest game, which also happens to be the single biggest-gambling day of the year—last year, more than $93 million was on the line in the United States, and some estimate that world-wide gambling on the game could be as much as $8 billion.

We’re not football experts over here, however, so if you really want to wager your hard-earned lucre, listen to this guy. But we can compare the Las Vegas odds of various Super Bowl happenings with the InTrade odds of real world events to put everything in perspective. Note that sports gambling markets are far more liquid than InTrade and thus provide more accurate odds. With apologies to Nate Silver and professional gamblers everywhere, here we go:

  • The odds of the San Francisco 49ers winning the Super Bowl by more than 4 points (62%) are slightly better than the odds of the movie “Argo” winning the Academy Award for Best Picture (60.7%).
  • The odds of the Baltimore Ravens beating the spread—either by winning outright or losing by less than four points—(41%) aren’t as good as the chances of the Republican party winning the 2016 presidential election (47.4%).
  • The odds that the first pass thrown by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be incomplete or intercepted by the other team (40%) are the same as the odds of the Dow Jones closing at or above 14,250 by the end of February (40%). 
  • The odds that the first score of the game will be a 49ers touchdown pass (18.2%) are roughly the same as the odds that Germany’s Social Democratic Union will win the country’s chancellorship in the 2013 German federal elections (18.5%)
  • The odds that the player to score the first touchdown will be Baltimore running back Ray Rice (9%) are about the same as the odds that Mario Monti will be elected Italy’s Prime Minister in 2013 (9%).  
  • The odds that Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith will win the game’s Most Valuable Player award (5%) are roughly the same as the odds that Japan will announce that has acquired a nuclear weapon by the end of 2013 (5%). 
  • The odds that the game’s Most Valuable Player will thank his family before anyone else (14%) are about the same as the odds that Ang Lee will win the Academy Award for Best Director for “Life of Pi” (14%). 
  • Notably, the two teams are coached by brothers, Jim and John Harbaugh. The odds that Jim will be shown on television before John (55.5%) are slightly better than the odds that Bashar al-Assad won’t be Syria’s president by the end of June 2013 (55%). 
  • The odds that Gatorade dumped on the winning coach will be lime green (15%) are slightly more favorable than the chances that  the United States and/or Israel will launch an air strike against Iran before the end of June (14%).

And the comparison to the the odds that the United Kingdom’s economy will go into recession in 2013 (77%)? No one will take odds like that gambling on sports.