Early bettors are backing Alabama against Texas in the BCS National Championship Game, scheduled for Jan. 7 at the Rose Bowl.
In Las Vegas, sports books have adjusted the betting line as a result. Alabama opened as a 4-point favorite in most sports books on Monday, but by today the line had risen to –5 in some shops.
"You have to readjust your ratings and then you also have to think, everybody just saw what we saw and who would you go bet on right now?" said Mike Seba of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a company that provides betting lines to roughly 90 percent of casinos in Nevada. "Obviously, you’d bet Alabama."
The Las Vegas Hilton opened its betting windows by spotting Texas fans 3½ points, but Alabama bettors pushed the Crimson Tide to a 5½-point favorite there, said Race and Sports Book Executive Director Jay Kornegay.
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"If we were to set a line on this game prior to those [conference] championship games, Texas would have been a slight favorite," Kornegay said. "Most bettors have a very short-term memory."
Some bettors, probably the more astute ones, aren’t convinced the line move is the proper one. After the spread hit 5 ½ at the Hilton, enough action on Texas came in to drop the line back to û4.
Gamblers siding with Alabama at MGM MIRAGE (MGM) casinos and the Wynn Las Vegas (WYNN) also raised their spreads to 5½ points, officials from each of the casinos said.
Johnny Avello, race and sports book director at Wynn Las Vegas, said the early Alabama bettors are likely tourists who won’t be around during the game or gamblers who think Alabama should be favored by more points.
Avello said he expects the spread to swing as high as 6½ points or as low as four points, depending on what happens during the next month.
"Good practices, any suspensions, guys getting hurt during practice, momentum shifts," Avello said. "Alabama has all the momentum going into this Saturday, but we’re not playing Saturday."
Jay Rood, race and sports book director for MGM Mirage, said the break will give Texas enough time to study its performance against Nebraska and fix whatever problems it may have.
"There’s a whole lot of things that can happen, that can go awry or correct itself," he said.
Rood said Alabama opened the season at 20-1 odds to win the national title, but bettors didn’t flock to them early. Texas, meanwhile, had 10-1 odds on winning the national championship at the start of the season, he said.
"Alabama was kind of overlooked," Rood said.
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