Betting bullets: Colts' $100 betting incentive shows how much NFL has changed its tune

Betting on the NFL might just become even bigger thanks to team incentives. David Purdum

The NFL's pivot from utter disdain to embracing the American sports betting market has been conservative in some ways, yet it also produced a handful of surprises, including just last week.

On Friday, the Indianapolis Colts introduced a ticket package that features a $100 betting credit on FanDuel's sportsbook. It is believed to be the first-of-its-kind offer for any sports franchise in the U.S.

The Colts FanDuel Fan Pass includes tickets to four regular-season games and the $100 betting credit, which is broken up into four $25 increments and distributed to sportsbook accounts in the week leading up to the individual games.

That's right, a league that once claimed that betting -- legal or illegal -- was the No. 1 threat to the game's integrity is now allowing teams to incentivize fans to bet on their games. Wild.

For more from the wild, evolving world of U.S. sports betting, check out this week's betting bullets.

Betting bullets

• NFL preseason kicks off Thursday with the Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. The Steelers begin the week as consensus 1.5-point favorites. The total is 33.

• On Friday, Caesars Sportsbook reported taking a $45,000 money-line bet on the U.S. men's basketball team to defeat the Czech Republic at -6,000 odds. The U.S. led by only four at halftime but pulled away in the second half for an easy 119-84 win, rewarding the bettor with a net $750 profit.

The U.S. opened as a 12.5-point favorite over Spain for its next game Tuesday.

• While Simone Biles drew attention for her absence, the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center has provided the most Olympic excitement in actual competition thus far. Americans Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky provided lasting memories and captured their medals predominantly as favorites, but we have seen swimming upsets.

Tunisia's Ahmed Hafnaoui won the gold medal in the men's 400-meter freestyle as a 50-1 long shot. In a sport filled with blunt times and minimal nuance, one might wonder how this significant surprise can occur. While he finished eighth in the same event at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games as a 15-year-old (12 seconds slower than his winning time this summer), the lack of international competition during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed blossoming competitors like the 18-year-old to hone their craft and sneak up on the field.

Other notable surprises were USA's Lydia Jacoby (10-1) in the women's 100-meter breaststroke and Canada's Maggie MacNeil (14-1) in the women's 100-meter butterfly. China (14-1) captured gold in the 800-meter freestyle relay. American Bobby Finke (6-1) won the 800-meter freestyle, and Russia's Evgeny Rylov (10-1) took home the gold in the 100-meter backstroke.

San Jose Sharks left winger Evander Kane, a known casino gambler, wrote on Twitter that he'll cooperate fully with an NHL investigation into allegations made by his estranged wife that he bet on his own games. The couple are going through a divorce.

Kane denied the allegations, saying he has never bet on hockey, including Sharks games, and has never thrown a game.

In 2019, Kane was sued by Las Vegas casino-resort The Cosmopolitan after allegedly failing to play for $500,000 in gambling markers given to him that April while the Sharks were in town for a playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights.