If it seems like gamblers have been taking home especially large winnings this year, or nearly taking home especially large winnings, that's because this has been one of the worst NFL seasons for Las Vegas bookies in recent memory.
As Lance Pugmire writes in the Los Angeles Times, popular NFL teams like the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers routinely beat the point spread during the regular season. The large and loyal fanbases who bet routinely on those teams raked in money this fall at the expense of sports books in Las Vegas.
And to make matters worse, more fans are multiplying their winnings by entering parlays.
Some of the explanation for these increased earnings is that fans are privy to more information than they were 10 or 20 years ago. But Jay Kornegay, who is in charge of the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino's Race and Sports book, says that doesn't account for all of Las Vegas' losses.
"We know the general public now has tremendous sources of information, that the regular player is sharper than the guy 10 years ago," Kornegay told the Los Angeles Times. "But we've never seen a streak like this before."
Perhaps the worst week of the year was Week 9, when Vegas-backed underdogs finished 2-10 against the point spread and seven games went over the projected points-scored line. Losses were so large on that day that MGM Resorts, the largest sports bookmaker in Las Vegas, had to retrieve emergency cash to pay off losses.
And things might get much worse in the playoffs. Teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts proved bookies wrong, overcoming long odds to make the playoffs. And if either the Seahawks (75-1 odds) or the Colts (200-1 odds) was to win the Super Bowl, Las Vegas would be in trouble.