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It is a happening. The game itself often takes a back seat to more important things, like TV commercials, halftime wardrobe malfunctions, block pools and parties.

The same principle takes place in Las Vegas, where casinos up the ante for the potential gambler with a plethora of betting options. In addition to the standard point spread bets, Las Vegas casinos and online gambling sites offer what is known as proposition, or prop, bets.

And while the Philadelphia Eagles’ appearance in this year’s Super Bowl shifts the focus back to the game for local fans, Las Vegas prognosticators go to extreme lengths to lure some of the 144 million people watching the game to make a wager.

The Super Bowl is the single most wagered event of the year. For last season‘s game, a record $81.4 million was bet in Nevada, and an additional $375 million was wagered on online sports gambling Web sites.

The driving force behind the more than 200 prop bets offered in casino sportsbooks is Las Vegas Sports Consultants Inc. The organization, led by Odds Director Tony Sinisi and oddsmaker Dan O’Brien, also was responsible for making New England a 6½ point favorite over the Eagles.

There are no boundaries for what constitutes a prop bet, and prop bets are added as the big game approaches.

A case in point? Sportsbook.com, one of the most reputable online gambling Web sites, has 25 pages of prop bets for Sunday’s game.

Some of the more popular Super Bowl prop bets, according to LVSC’s Sean Van Patten, are predicting the occurrence of a two-point conversion, the game going into overtime, and the player to score the first touchdown of the game.

According to Thursday’s America’s Line, an odds service based in Las Vegas, Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb are 8-1 to score the first touchdown, and Brian Westbrook is 6-1. Patriots running back Corey Dillon, at 9-2, receives the lowest odds on the board. The highest odds on the board are for no touchdowns to be scored in the game at 65-1.

Some of the more creative prop bets combine the Super Bowl with other sports and events.

For instance, one bet gives you the option of betting which will be greater; the combined points of the Eagles and Patriots in the Super Bowl or Sixers guard Allen Iverson’scombined points, rebounds and assists in Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Hollywood even gets into the act. An available prop bet asks which will be longer: the Super Bowl (kickoff to final gun) or the broadcast of the upcoming Academy Awards (start of the show to the beginning of the rolling credits).

So why do the qiu qiu online casinos and Web sites go to such extremes? Money, of course.

“Casinos want to create as many betting opportunities as possible,” Van Patten said. “The prop bets, which account for 10 to 15 percent of the money wagered on the Super Bowl, are very profitable for the casinos and help balance out the more traditional bets.”

The prop bet does not appeal to the seasoned professional gambler, and instead attracts the less experienced sports gambler, who just wants to get in on the action of America’s biggest one-day sporting event.

“The majority of prop bets are wagered by people wanting to make the game more exciting for themselves,” Van Patten said. “The wagers are relatively small, and people are attracted by the possible big pay day.”