LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas casinos have made the New England Patriots favorites to win the Super Bowl thanks to their national following, a decade of winning and the playoff mystique of quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.

In odds posted Sunday night by Cantor Gaming, the Patriots opened as three-point favorites over the New York Giants after New York beat San Francisco 20-17 in overtime in the NFC championship game, Race and Sports Director Mike Colbert said.

“The public will still like New England,” Colbert told The Associated Press. “I don’t think people are actually hip to how good these NFC teams are.”

New England beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 for the AFC title, when Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.

Colbert said the 2008 Super Bowl rematch is the best matchup possible for casinos, with a shot at breaking wagering records for Nevada casinos.

The Patriots opened as 14-point favorites four years ago but Giants backers bet the line down to 12 points and got paid when New York earned a 17-14 win.

Nevada casinos lost the most money ever on the Super Bowl that year: $2.6 million.

Gambling expert R.J. Bell said the rematch could see $10 billion in wagers worldwide, with only one percent of that figure gambled in casino sports books in the Silver State.

Bell said several factors will make bets more expensive for Patriots backers than the raw matchup would dictate, including the celebrity of Brady and Belichick and the fact that more casual bettors generally gamble on the Super Bowl than other NFL games.

Bettors also like to see scoring — an advantage for the Patriots over the Giants, he said.

“Usually there’s going to be a premium on offense,” Bell said.

Bell said that while the Patriots have played better all season, the Giants have been the best team over the past month.

Executive Race and Sports Director Jay Kornegay of the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino says an injury to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski could have a big effect on the line, because, if he doesn’t play, the Giants will be able to double-team other New England receivers.

“That’s a big factor, a huge factor, actually, and will change things. I know he came back into the game but I’m pretty sure he’s not 100 percent,” he said. “That’s going to be a half point or so, maybe a point.”

Kornegay said the Patriots may be the favorites but the close win over Baltimore showed they are beatable.

“The Patriots — they were fortunate, and they just got by,” he said.

Photo: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

THEN AND NOW:  In this Nov. 6, 2011 file photo, New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning, right, is congratulated by the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady after the Giants’ 24-20 win in an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass. Brady has three Super Bowl rings, with another taken away by Manning and the Giants in 2008.