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Sunday, 31 January, 1999, 15:08 GMT
UK beats USA in Super Bowl bets
Denver running back Terrell Davis is the Bronco most likely to score a touchdown
Denver running back Terrell Davis is the Bronco most likely to score a touchdown
Fancy a flutter on the time the first points are scored in Super Bowl XXXII on Sunday? How about one on the total number of sacks, interceptions, fumbles or the longest run from scrimmage?

While American viewers enjoy saturation Super Bowl coverage this weekend, British fans of the gridiron game are making up for what they miss in the build-up with a selection of weird and wonderful gambles prior to the game, and while it's in progress.

Odds on the passing, rushing and receiving yards of individual players are available and there is even a bet on the number of times the chain gang comes on the field to measure for a first down (the bookies suggest three).

Much of the punting is spread betting, different from and riskier than the American version, which has become increasingly popular in recent years. Firms such as City Index and Sporting Index developed it as an offshoot of dealings by financiers on the London Stock Exchange and much of their big business comes from workers in the financial institutions.

The more-established bookmakers such as William Hill have also been dabbling in offering spread betting as well as the traditional odds. Those put Green Bay at as low as 1/8 to win the Super Bowl with Denver available at 9/2. Handicap betting gives Denver a 12-point start.

Green Bay running back Dorsey Levens is favourite to score the first touchdown, the second quarter is when the most points will be scored, according to the bookmakers, and you can get 100/1 on Denver winning by 25-30 points.

In America, where there are historically tighter controls on gambling, the line in Las Vegas is Green Bay -11.5, with little else available. Easybets.com does allow clients to gamble online on special bets such as whether there will be a score in the final two minutes of the first half.


A brief guide to Super Bowl betting

  • Odds betting is relatively simple to understand. Denver at 9/2 to win is the equivalent of nine pounds won for a two pounds stake. Your stake is also returned and betting tax at 9 per cent is payable on winnings if not pre-paid on the stake.

  • Handicap betting balances the two teams out by giving the underdog a points start. Whichever team you choose to win, the odds are around evens, so you would double your stake if correct.

  • Spread betting sets a range of points. If Green Bay are favourites to win by between 10 and 13 points and you think they will win by more than this, you "buy" Green Bay at 13. If they win by 33 points, you are 20 points ahead of the prediction and win 20 times your stake.

    If Green Bay win by only six points, however, you will lose seven times your stake (13 - 6 = 7). And if they lose by say three points, that is -3 to your 13 meaning a loss of 16 times your stake.

  • US point spreads are more or less the same as handicap betting, with the favoured team given a minus points total. Green Bay at -11.5 means it would have to win by 12 or more points to cover the spread and for you to more or less double your stake. Eleven or less and punters backing Denver would win.
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