Bookmaker Spotlight: SuperBook’s Jay Kornegay Talks Dealing Super Bowl Props in Different States, Unreasonable Customers, and More
February 7, 2023
By Bob Christ Feb. 7th, 2023 | Gaming Today
Jay Kornegay, EVP of SuperBook Sports Operations at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino, may well have been the busiest person in town over the weeks preceding the Super Bowl.
During a phone conversation with Kornegay a day after the SuperBook’s 1,000-plus Super Bowl prop bet options were released to the public, various topics that surround Super Bowl Sunday were discussed — from long-ago events to those pertaining to this year’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.
Here’s some of the give-and-take with Kornegay, followed by a few prop bets worth considering.
Gaming Today: You and your staff must have had a major sigh of relief once all the work on props was complete and were posted Thursday night.
Jay Kornegay: It’s quite a process. It starts with a couple of weeks’ work before the (conference) championship games. And once we know who’s going to be in the Super Bowl, that adds other layers … data entry, double-checking. About 70 percent of our handle for the Super Bowl will be on prop bets.
GT: Regarding one of this year’s betting options, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is listed at 9-1 that he’ll catch a pass. Considering he hasn’t had a reception all season, do you foresee another ‘Philly Special’ taking place?
Kornegay: We understand betting patterns, and we know the recreational gamblers are going to play it. And it’s the Super Bowl, so there will tend to be plays we haven’t seen all year.
GT: The odds of KC’s Patrick Mahomes passing for 501 or more yards are 40-1. Considering New England’s Tom Brady passed for 505 yards for New England five seasons ago when the Eagles were last in the Super Bowl, it must be popular choice with bettors.
Kornegay: These types of bets are very attractive — high odds with low risk and high rewards.
GT: This year, the odds are 500-1 that no touchdown will be scored in the title game, something that has never occurred in NFL championship game history that dates to 1933. But such a scenario almost played out four seasons ago when the Patriots subdued the Rams, 13-3, with the sole TD of the game coming with only seven minutes left to play. Were you sweating out that game?
Kornegay: YES! With capital letters. It’s one of the props everyone has and not something you pay attention to since that’s never happened in a Super Bowl. Closer to the end of the game, we looked at ‘what kind of liability do we have.’ It was quite a bit. A healthy six figures.
GT: Do prop offerings online differ from state to state (editor’s note: the SuperBook operates in seven states — Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, and Iowa)?
Kornegay: Yes, they do. Some don’t allow odds on the coin toss, such as Ohio (also Colorado). And Iowa doesn’t allow negative propositions. For instance, they can’t post how many interceptions for say, Mahomes, on a prop. That would be negative.
Note: The SuperBook also can’t offer the public a chance to wager on whether the singer of the national anthem will bungle the words or whether there will be another wardrobe malfunction during the halftime show.
GT: Of the seven state markets you currently are in, which one has drawn so much interest it surprised you?
Kornegay: We have high expectations in Ohio, which just opened up in January. And Tennessee has been surprising.
GT: What is the biggest bet you’ve taken so far on Super Bowl 57?
Kornegay: We have had a handful of healthy five-figure wagers. But remember 80 to 85 percent of the handle comes in the last 48 hours.
GT: Safeties, at long odds, are one of the archenemies of sportsbooks. There have been nine in Super Bowl history, dating to the 1967 game. Is there one in particular that caused the most pain for your sportsbook?
Kornegay: It was the first (offensive) play of the Broncos’ game against Seattle (Jan. 2014), when the ball was snapped over Peyton Manning’s head and into the end zone. I believe we opened at 60-1 on the first score being a safety. We took a pretty big hit on that. Our liability on that was a healthy six figures.
Note: The odds are 60-1 for such an occurrence in this game, too.
Super Bowl Betting Stories and Sean Payton-Broncos News
That wasn’t the only early-game dagger to his sportsbook’s heart. In the 2006 Super Bowl between Indianapolis and Chicago, the Bears’ Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and caused several of the VIPs Kornegay was entertaining to erupt in joy.
“Yeah, oh yeah, overall that was a big hit. That Hester score was bad. That opening kickoff being a TD (20-1 for a return TD as the first score of the game) and Hester being a long shot to score the first touchdown (25-1) are always going to be poor results in the books,” Kornegay said.
Among the more bizarre episodes in Kornegay’s career occurred in Super Bowl 33, when he was at the Imperial Palace, a game Denver won easily over Atlanta, 34-19. But the result of one prop bet wasn’t decided until the final “meaningless” play.
To set the stage, the Broncos were killing off the final seconds of the game when head coach Mike Shanahan removed star QB John Elway, so he could get a curtain call.
In came Bubby Brister, who took a knee to end the game and trigger a celebration for the Broncos and their fans.
But not for this one guy, who had bet Brister would not get a rushing attempt in the game. And since a kneel-down is a rushing attempt, he lost.
He didn’t go away quietly.
“He was at the ticket window yelling at me, screaming,” said Kornegay, who was working while wearing a Broncos jersey. “He claimed I was from Denver and that I called Shanahan to put Brister in the game. I said, ‘You’re accusing me of calling the Broncos’ sideline and telling Mike Shanahan what to do? Yeah, Mike takes my calls all the time.’”
Kornegay said he had to call security and have him escorted from the property.
“To this day, I still get a hard time about what happened,” Kornegay chuckled.
Speaking of Denver, the Westgate listed the Broncos at 40-1 to win Super Bowl 58 when odds were first listed in late January. Yet when Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton was hired last week, that number held steady.
“We anticipated that with all the money the new owners had that they would sign a name defensive coordinator such as (DeMeco) Ryans or (Dan) Quinn or Sean Payton. So we built that into the odds a little bit,” Kornegay shared.