Auburn bettors sitting pretty at 1,000-1 odds

Somewhere out there – the best guess would be in Alabama – there

are 14 anxious gamblers with more than just school pride riding on

Auburn winning the national championship.

They’ve got the Tigers at 1,000-1 odds to win the national title

– and they’re only one win in the BCS title game from collecting a

windfall.

That has the bookmaker who sold the tickets a bit nervous, but

maybe not as much as you might think. In the sports betting

business it’s not just the customers who take all the risks.

”Being in the gambling world every once in a while you’re going

to get in situations that might not be favorable for your

property,” said Jay Kornegay, who runs the sports book at the LVH

hotel in this gambling city. ”This is one of them.”

Kornegay says all of the bets are relatively small, though they

do add up when multiplied by 1,000. They were taken during the

spring when Auburn had a new coach, was coming off a 3-9 record and

the general consensus was that there were five or six teams in the

SEC alone that were better than the Tigers.

It didn’t take long for Auburn supporters to notice, and put a

few bucks on their team just for the sport of it.

”We’re a player friendly book and are very aggressive with our

futures odds,” Kornegay said. ”I wish we had opened them at

100-1, but we didn’t.”

The LVH had the longest odds for the Tigers, but other sports

books took what looked to be sure money on Auburn, too. One Auburn

bettor posted a picture of his betting slip from the Paris

hotel-casino on Twitter showing a wager of $100 on the Tigers at

500-1 odds.

That’s a payout of $50,000, though it’s not time to start

counting the cash just yet. Florida State is favored by as much as

9 points in the Jan. 6 game that will decide the final BCS

title.

Longtime oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point hotel-casino

said that bettor – and any others holding big tickets on Auburn –

would be wise to hedge their bets by finding the best price on

Florida State and betting that side. The payoff won’t be nearly as

big, but at least there will be a ticket to cash no matter who wins

the game.

”It makes no sense to have a nice little score sitting in front

of you if you don’t collect anything,” Vaccaro said.

Betting on so-called ”futures” has become increasingly popular

in recent years in this gambling city, even though the long odds

almost always favor the house. The chance to win big money off a

small bet is attractive to fans who root for their teams anyway and

don’t mind risking a few bucks on bets that seldom pay off.

Auburn could be the rare longshot that does, though the Tigers

aren’t the biggest potential payday for bettors in recent years.

That honor would belong to Virginia Commonwealth – a team that many

felt didn’t even belong in the tournament – making it to the Final

Four in 2011.

Vegas sports books had the Rams as high as 5,000-1 to win the

national championship that year, and they came within two wins of

doing just that for some lucky bettors.

Like then, though, there’s no reason to feel sorry for the

bookmakers at LVH. They can tinker enough with the lines on the

title game to draw money on Florida State and avoid taking too much

of a bath.

”It’s not like we’re going to have to raise price of our

grilled cheese sandwiches,” Kornegay said. ”Certainly we’re

rooting for the Seminoles at this point but we have a month to

adjust our money lines to make it a softer blow.”

It could be worse. The LVH made Philadelphia 9,999-1 underdogs

to win the NBA championship this season, only to see the 76ers beat

defending champion Miami in their first game and open the season

3-0. Since then, Philadelphia has reverted to form, losing 15 of

19.

And for those looking for another future big payoff? The United

States at 125-1 to win next year’s World Cup will surely draw some

interest, but how about Iran or Honduras at 2,000-1 to win it all

in Brazil?

”There’s definitely going to be tickets on both of those teams

and not just a handful,” Kornegay said. ”There will be a bucket

full of tickets on both those teams at those odds.”