Erik Matuszewski
Bloomberg News

The New York Giants’ upset win over the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl four years ago led to the biggest gambling losses for Nevada’s sports books in more than two decades.


Eli Manning and the underdog Giants might again be turning Las Vegas bookmakers into Patriots fans.


The Giants as recently as last month had odds as high as 100-1 to win the NFL’s championship game. Chris Andrews, director of race and sports for Cal Neva’s sports books, said he had one regular client place a futures bet of “well over four figures” at 60-1 odds on the Giants when they had a 6-6 record and were heading to Dallas with a four-game losing streak.


“We’re pretty strung out on the Giants, and we’re not alone,” Andrews said in a telephone interview from Reno, Nev. “As far as the future book goes, we certainly don’t want to see the Giants win.”


While Andrews declined to identify the bettor with the four-figure Super Bowl wager, he said the man already cashed a bet on the Giants winning the NFC title. A winning $2,000 wager at 60-1 odds would yield a $120,000 profit, and a winning $5,000 wager would return $300,000.


“In future bookmaking in general, you don’t want the long shots to win and the Giants were not one of the favorites through much of the year,” said Art Manteris, vice president of race and sports book operations at Station’s Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas. “Most sports books are in the same spot.”


The Giants beat the host Patriots 24-20 on Nov. 6 and then lost four straight games. Their 38-35 home loss to the defending Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers on Dec. 4 left them with a 6-6 record.


“We were at 100-1 after they lost to Green Bay,” Andrews said. “We’re actually pretty aggressive with the futures, we move them quite a bit from one week to the next if a team looks bad or good. In retrospect, we probably went too high.”


The Giants recovered to win three of their final four regular-season games to make the playoffs for the first time in three years. They’ve continued the run with three playoff victories and could become the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl after having a four-game losing streak.


“The four-game losing streak was tough, but our story this year is amazing and we’re looking forward to finishing it off,” Devin Thomas, who recovered two fumbled punts to help New York win the NFC championship in San Francisco, said last week. “You don’t like to lose, but we always have a mentality that they didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves, so let’s find out what we were doing to lose.”


Andrews said this year’s Super Bowl might be the most heavily wagered championship game in Nevada and so far he’s seen almost twice as many bets on the Giants.


Frank Streshley of the Nevada Gaming Control Board said the Super Bowl handle is most affected by the popularity of the teams in the game, the nation’s economy and the point spread.


“The closer the point spread, the more interest there tends to be from a betting standpoint,” Streshley said. “People are generally more likely to place a wager when they don’t have to lay as many points.”


The Patriots are favored by 2½ to 3 points, depending on the sports book.


The biggest Super Bowl handle was in 2006, when $94.5 million was bet in Nevada on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 21-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks. The Steelers were four-point favorites, and sports books cited their national following for the number of bets made.


The Giants-Patriots matchup in 2008 drew $92 million in wagers. New York won 17-14 as 12-point underdogs, and Nevada’s sports books lost almost $2.6 million.


The NFL championship game’s handle in Nevada dropped to about $82 million in 2009 and 2010 during the economic downturn, and rebounded to $87.5 million last year, when the Packers beat the Steelers 31-25.


“I think we’re going to set a record this year,” Andrews said. “Just a hunch on my part. The matchup is so attractive and the economy has rebounded enough where we should pass that Steeler-?Seahawk Super Bowl.”