Tebow mania, his play tilt gambling odds

Apparel manufacturer Jockey International on Thursday put a $1 million clothing giveaway on the line if endorser Tim Tebow leads the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl victory in February. The odds of that happening are certainly better than they were before the season began.

Online sportsbook Bovada.lv (formerly Bodog in the United States) had the Broncos at 100-to-1 odds in the preseason to win the Super Bowl, but after Tebow’s 7-1 record as a starter, those odds are now 25-to-1. Caesar’s had the Broncos as high as 175-to-1 at one point in the season, but this week adjusted the odds from 25-to-1 to 15-to-1.

Tebow is affecting the way sports betting is conducted on both sides of the bet.

Despite the Broncos' 7-1 record over the past eight weeks, sportsbooks still have the Broncos as underdogs most weeks, and bettors are still gambling against them.

A representative of Bovada.lv says there have only been two weeks when the majority of money was placed on the Broncos: Week 7 against the Dolphins and Week 13 against the Vikings. The Broncos won and covered both of those weeks, making it the only two weeks Bovada.lv lost money on Broncos' games. Overall, the online sportsbook is up 22 percent on bets made on Broncos' games.

The interest in betting on Broncos games is up, and senior race and sports analyst Todd Fuhrman of Caesar’s Entertainment says he's seeing people who have never gambled before bet on Tebow. Fuhrman says this week’s game against the Patriots is on pace to be the most bet-upon Sunday game of the season, and that’s before the bulk of bets come in over the weekend.

Likewise, Dave Mason of BetOnline.com says this weekend’s Broncos-Patriots game has 50 percent more bets placed than any other game Sunday. Although the Broncos are 5-0-1 on covering the spread the past six weeks, most are betting the Broncos’ run ends this weekend. So much money has been placed on the Patriots (around 75 percent) the line has moved from New England +4.5 to +7.5, large movement in the world of sports betting.

Bovada.lv sportsbook manager Richard Gardner says Tebow has been good for the industry as a whole. He says the Broncos' play hasn’t made setting the spread any tougher but has made how the public will react more unpredictable. For example, last week the Broncos were 3.5 point favorites, yet 65 percent of the money bet with Bovada.lv was on Chicago.

Despite the number of fourth-quarter comebacks for the Broncos, oddsmakers still set the odds against the Broncos doing so, which means in-game betting can provide big returns for bettors. For example, when the Broncos trailed the Bears 10-0 early in the fourth quarter last week, the in-game wager on 5Dimes.com was +550 for them to come back and win the game outright. For gambling novices, that means for every $100 bet won, a $550 profit was made.

Bovada.lv says in-game odds are calculated in real-time based on the score, clock, matchup and other factors. Considerations like the “Tebow factor” wouldn’t ordinarily be taken into account; however, because of the increase in bettors taking in-game wagers on a comeback, sportsbooks are forced to consider such factors but have to balance them against the risk of over-adjusting.

Tebow also has been good fodder for prop bets, otherwise known as side bets. Wagers have been offered on everything from whether Tebow will complete a pass in a designated quarter to how many turnovers he’ll have in a game. For example, you could more than double your money if you bet on Tebow having 22 or more rushing attempts in a single game during the remainder of the 2011 season, with odds set at 5-to-2.