Women get in on Super Bowl action

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Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest betting days of the year.

Between the celebrity factor of Tom Brady and the Giants hailing from the nation's most populous market, Super Bowl XLVI is poised to be the most bet-upon game in Super Bowl history. Industry experts project gambling on this year's game will exceed $10 billion internationally.

So how do women factor into this wagering bonanza?

RJ Bell, the Las Vegas-based founder of the popular handicapping website Pregame.com, predicts a lot of betting novices will come out of the woodwork this week, and a good chunk of them will be women.

"The overall involvement level goes way up," Bell said. "There is seven times the amount of betting on Super Bowl Sunday [compared to] any regular-season game. For women, there are the squares at Super Bowl parties and prop bets."

Women are especially drawn to the novelty proposition bets, which this year include options such as, "What color hair will Madonna have to start her halftime show?" and "If Tom Brady's son is shown, will he be wearing a Tom Brady jersey?"

Interestingly, these "non-game action" bets are illegal in Nevada. All sports bets have to be made on action without an outcome that can be predetermined. A bet on whether the Boston Celtics will score more points Sunday than the number of receiving yards racked up by Rob Gronkowski is legal. But, because equipment managers may have inside information on which Gatorade the Giants pick up this week, betting on its color is not permitted.

Bell said women still have an outlet for placing these exotic bets -- their spouses who are wagering through different channels. "Their husbands call it up online or are on the phone with the bookie anyway, and she chimes in with, 'Hey, throw down $20 [to bet] Madonna is going to sing 'Like a Virgin,' or whatever."

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Super Bowl bets range from whether Tom Brady's son will sport his jersey to if the elder Brady can complete his first pass or win the MVP.

Terry Cox, the director of race and sportsbook at Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, Nev., provides a staggering statistic on the percentage of women who will enter his sportsbook this weekend. While he doesn't have exact numbers, Cox projects the female-to-male ratio on Super Bowl Sunday is 50-50. Cox believes Peppermill's amenities, including a world-class spa and restaurants, explain the higher concentration of women wandering into his book, which on a typical weekend is closer to 40-60 female-to-male. Although Cox observes veteran sports gamblers of both genders throughout the season, he said Sunday will be noticeably different.

"This is the weekend when people come up to the counter and say, 'We've never placed a wager before,'" Cox said.

The Peppermill goes to great lengths to ensure beginners don't walk out of the sportsbook too intimidated to go up to the counter, even approaching patrons and offering to answer questions.

"The same woman who has never placed a football bet may be a diamond slots player," Cox said. "We don't want to lose her."

Cox believes the average woman spends around $100 on Super Bowl Sunday in comparison to a man spending $200 on the game. He also sees the average woman spreading her bets around with a particular interest in player props. These bets appeal to women because they are personal, helping her feel "more connected to the player."

Both Cox and Bell said women bet differently on football when compared to men: Women are more thoughtful. Bell calls it "testosterone-less wagering," noting women are not just doing it for the thrill. For women, gambling needs to have an analytical component.

Of the novices, Cox points out more astute questions come from the women. "Women are more measured and intellectual when it comes to betting," Cox said. "There are guys out there who throw down $5,000 on the game without checking the line first. You would almost never see that from a woman."

With so much action on the Super Bowl, is it a good game on which to place your first wager?

Definitely not, says Tara in Columbia, S.C., who asked to have her last name withheld. Tara is an amateur handicapper who contributes frequently to Bell's website. Her betting advice spans all sports, although she has a particular interest in the NFL. She also travels to Atlantic City and Las Vegas on a regular basis to play in World Series of Poker circuit events.

Tara advises against betting on the Super Bowl if you are a novice.

"This is the hardest game to bet on all year," she said. "You'd be better off betting a random Division I college basketball game on a Wednesday night."

A game ridden with so many prop bets, especially novelty ones, leaves Tara especially leery of those who think they have the upper hand. "There is a contingent that will say, 'I know what color Gatorade the Patriots drank all year,' and think they have the inside track to the Gatorade bath prop," Tara said. "Well guess what? It almost never pans out."

Tara will be at her home in South Carolina and will not be placing any action on the game. But for those who will, her favorite wagers are the Patriots at minus-3, Tom Brady to throw over 2.5 touchdowns and Jason Pierre-Paul's total solo and assisted tackles to be over 4.5.

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