Since the word “gamble” was first created, it has taken on a lot of different forms. However, sports gambling has been a standing institution for centuries, dating back to even before the first chariot races were held. Things have certainly changed since then and, since professional football first came on the scene, it has become one of the hottest attractions for sports gamblers. Setting up NFL odds is a tricky business, and even sometimes miss their mark completely. However, sports gambling is still a great form of entertainment – and even business for some people, and the sports industry is full of interesting bets that have kept the excitement at its best.
Strange Sports Betting Odds Attract Attention
All major sports have witnessed some incredible odds over the years, and the NFL has had its share. A Super Bowl bet had sports gamblers scratching their heads when, in 1969, Super Bowl III found the New York Jets ready to face the then-Baltimore Colts. That isn’t too much of a surprise, but the fact that the Jets were 18-point underdogs drew a lot of attention. When they went on to win 16-7, pro football, and sports gambling, changed forever.
In another Super Bowl-tied bet from the 1999-2000 season, the then-St. Louis Rams were 300-to-1 to win Super Bowl XXXIV during the preseason. This is because they had a horrible showing during the run up to the regular season, and had to deal with the loss of Trent Green, the free agent quarterback who suffered an injury that would keep him out of the lineup for the entire year. However, Rams fans, and possibly a few errant sports gamblers, made out big time, as the Rams went on to win the Super Bowl against the Tennessee Titans that year, 23-16.
The last Super Bowl bet worth mentioning was on Super Bowl XLIV, which had the New Orleans Saints facing the Indianapolis Colts. It’s worth noting that the Saints started the season at +2,500 before improving to +170 ahead of the big game. Those odds weren’t long enough to keep Billy Walters away, and his $3.5-million wager resulted in a total payout of $9.45 million. Walters is a well-known sports gambler who ended up behind bars for insider trading, but that’s a tale for another day.
NFL Football Doesn’t Get All The Action
NFL games get a lot of the gambling action, but not all of it. College football has seen its fair share, as well. One lucky gambler from New Jersey a couple years ago created two parlay bets – one covering eight teams and the other covering ten – of mostly bets on NCAAF games, with the exception of two NBA games in the 10-team parlay. Once the choices were made, the gambler put up the $1,200 corresponding to the wager and waited – and waited some more. By the time the games had completed, he was looking at two winning slips worth a total of $300,000.
Football doesn’t capture all the betting glory, though. Baseball and basketball have a piece of the action, as well. It was in 2011 when the St. Louis Cardinals were 4 and a half games behind the Atlanta Braves in the MLB season, looking for a wild card berth with 15 games left to go. They were listed at 999-1 by sportsbooks to win the World Series and, fortunately for some sports gamblers, they went on to beat the Texas Rangers. Anyone who took a chance with those odds was laughing all the way to the bank.
In what will go down as one of the worst beats for a sportsbook in the history of organized sports wagers, a 60-year-old man out of the UK decided to place a small parlay bet on horse races in 2008. The bet was so small that it barely registered on the ticket. 50 pence is about $0.80, and that’s what he was willing to risk on his eight-horse parlay accumulator. Imagine walking through the door after a day out and telling your spouse that you just scored $1.32 million on an investment of $0.80. That’s exactly what he did, and why he deserves a mention in the annals of sports gambling history.