Best and worst 2015 moments for Vegas bookmakers

It's been another eventful football season out in Las Vegas. AP Photo/John Locher

As usual, there were plenty of ups and downs for Las Vegas bookmakers in 2015. Below, we'll look at the best, worst and most controversial moments of the year, along with the usual betting report from Week 15 in the NFL.

The good

The 2015 NCAA tournament was, by far, the greatest March Madness that MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood had ever experienced.

"The first three days were just phenomenal," Rood said. "If we needed a 92-percent free throw shooter to miss them both, he did."

Rood estimated his book held between "12 and 15 percent" of the amount wagered over the first three days of the tournament. The book almost won too much, too early.

"One day, I think it was the first Friday, we held like 26 percent," Rood said. "Sunday was basically zero. Everyone's will was broken by that point."

-- Floyd Mayweather's victory over Manny Pacquiao in May produced the biggest win on a single event from both William Hill and CG Technology's Nevada sportsbooks.

"We needed Mayweather, over 11.5 [rounds] and to win by decision," Jason Simbal, CG Technology vice president of race and sports, said. "And we got them all."

Simbal characterized the win as on the "higher side of the six-figure range."

-- The most profitable NFL game of the 2015 regular season for Caesars sportsbook came in Week 1. On Monday night, after a slew of favorites buried the books on the opening Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers upset the Minnesota Vikings as 2.5-point underdogs.

"The public had a good opening Sunday and many rolled it onto the Vikings figuring with [Adrian Peterson] back, they'd level them," a Caesars bookmanager said. "Well, that didn't happen, and we cleaned up, making back everything we had paid out Sunday and then some."

-- The Houston Texans' Monday night upset of the then-undefeated Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 16 produced a mid-six-figure win for CG Technology, the book's biggest win of the NFL season through Week 15.

The costly

-- The Super Bowl drama still stings for William Hill director of trading Nick Bogdanovich. The Seattle Seahawks' decision to attempt a pass on second-and-goal from the New England 1-yard line, down 28-24, with 27 seconds to play, produced a million-dollar swing at William Hill, when Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler cut in front of the slant and picked off Russell Wilson to secure the win. It was the sportsbook's largest single-game loss in 2015.

"Horrible call," Bogdanovich lamented. "Just another seven figures that we can't get back."

-- The Carolina Panthers' 33-14 blowout of the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day produced the biggest loss on an NFL game for CG Technology.

"We had a guy bet $700,000 on the Panthers," Simbal said.

-- Caesars' biggest loss on an NFL game came in Week 8, when the Arizona Cardinals covered as 7-point favorites in a 34-20 win over the Cleveland Browns.

The controversial

-- You wouldn't guess a College World Series game would cause the biggest kerfuffle of the year for Caesars sportsbook. But a weather-hampered game between Fullerton and Vanderbilt that started on June 14 -- but didn't end until June 15 -- did exactly that.

With Fullerton leading 3-1 in the sixth inning, rain moved in, causing the game to be suspended and restarted Saturday. Vanderbilt came from behind on Saturday and won 4-3 on a walk-off home run. But, per house rules, games that go five innings are deemed official, and so the book ruled Fullerton the winner.

-- Western Kentucky's lopsided 63-7 rout of Florida International on Nov. 21 looked to be an easy winner for Hilltopper backers, as WKU led 56-0 heading into the fourth quarter as 20-point favorites. But the game was called with 5:03 to play due to lightning in the area. Per sportsbook rules, football games must last 55 minutes to be official. All bets were ruled no action; at CG Technology, 80 percent of the bets were on Western Kentucky.

Odds and ends

-- Top five most heavily bet NFL regular-season games of 2015: (per SportsInsights.com)

1. New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts, Oct. 18
2. New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts, Sept. 21
3. Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos, Nov. 1
4. Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers, Sept. 28
5. Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots, Sept. 10

-- Opening odds for championship teams in 2015:

(Courtesy of the Westgate SuperBook)

Super Bowl: New England Patriots -- 12-1
NBA finals: Golden State Warriors -- 20-1
World Series: Kansas City Royals -- 18-1
Stanley Cup: Chicago Blackhawks -- 11-2
College football national championship: Ohio State Buckeyes -- 12-1
College basketball national championship: Duke -- 7-1

-- Ten 12-leg parlays cashed at William Hill in 2015, including a $10 NFL ticket that paid out $30,000, according to director of marketing Michael Grodsky.

Biggest spreads of 2015:

College football: Baylor was a 56.5-point favorite over Lamar on Sept. 12. The Bears failed to cover in a 66-31 win.

College basketball: Louisville was a 36-point favorite over Kennesaw State on Dec. 16. The Cardinals won 94-57, covering by one point.

Baseball: The Los Angeles Dodgers were -370 favorites over the Philadelphia Phillies on July 8. The Dodgers won 5-0.

NFL: The Seattle Seahawks were 16.5-point favorites over the Chicago Bears on Sept. 27. The Seahawks won 26-0.

NHL: Washington Capitals were -556 favorites over the Buffalo Sabres on March 3. The Capitals won 6-0.

Week 15 NFL betting report

Nevada sportsbooks' three-peat is in jeopardy.

The state's regulated sports betting market has set records in both the amount bet and the amount won by the books the past two years. But heading into the final football weekend of 2015, the books are going to need a strong finish to set another mark -- especially after yesterday.

Heavily-bet favorites Seattle, Green Bay and Pittsburgh came through for bettors in an afternoon barrage that sucked up the books' morning profits -- and more. Arizona's primetime shredding of Philadelphia finished off the books and sent bettors into the holidays in a festive mood.

"The worst [of the year] was today," Marc Nelson, sportsbook director at the Aliante Casino, said. "Brutal day for cards, parlays and teasers."

Hold off on your charitable donations to the bookies for now, though. With November and December profits yet to be announced, sportsbooks are up $170.4 million in 2015, according to Nevada Gaming Control. The books won a record $227.04 million in 2014, breaking the all-time record that had been set in 2013 by $25 million, and catching that mark this year is certainly plausible. (The books won $58 million in November and December last year).

Overall in 2015, though, bettors have bet more and lost less in than in recent years.

"The handle is good, but the win percentage is a little bit less this year," CG Technology's Simbal said.

Through October, $3.24 billion has been wagered at Nevada's 188 regulated sportsbooks in 2015; approximately $3.90 billion was bet in 2014.

The books kept 5.82 percent of the amount wagered last year; in 2015, the books have held approximately 5.24 percent of the amount wagered through October. (Nevada Gaming Control will release revenue numbers for November in the coming weeks, followed by December numbers in late January).

"Honestly, most of the football season has been a boring type [of] year for us," Westgate SuperBook assistant manager Ed Salmons said. "We have grinded our way to a decent season."