Iowa sportsbook inundated with Cornhuskers title bets

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Last Thursday, an hour after the new sportsbook at Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, opened for business, a bettor placed a $2,800 wager on the Nebraska Cornhuskers to win the national championship at 66-1 odds.

It was a sign of what was to come.

A week later, nearly 60 percent of the money that has been bet on Ameristar's odds to win the national title is on the Cornhuskers. Out of the first 260 title bets placed, more than half (132) were on Nebraska.

In comparison, as of Tuesday, there had been 16 bets combined on favorites Alabama and Clemson.

"The liability on Nebraska is approaching $250,000," Erich Zimny, head of retail sportsbook operations for Penn National Gaming, which runs Ameristar, told ESPN. "We'd anticipate more plays coming in over the next couple weeks."

Iowa is among the growing number of states that have authorized sports betting in the past year. Legal sportsbooks began operating in the Hawkeye State last week. Council Bluffs is east of the Missouri River, less than an hour's drive from Omaha, Nebraska.

"We're looking at developing some ways to incentivize folks to play futures on their local teams and be even more active in trying to root them home," Zimny added. "People in virtually all of the areas around the country we're opening up sportsbooks in are very passionate about their local teams and the good people in Council Bluffs are emblematic of that. Part of the fun of sports is following your team week to week and on a journey to a potential championship. Knowing you have a little bit of money waiting for you if they come out on top just adds to the excitement."

Nebraska went 4-8 last year and is entering its second season under coach Scott Frost.

Ameristar is now offering the Huskers at 100-1 to win the national championship. Georgia has attracted the second-most title bets at the book but trails the Cornhuskers by more than 100 wagers.

"People aren't just betting [Nebraska] to win the national championship either," Zimny said. "We have almost 200 individual plays on Nebraska to win the Big Ten alone. Heck, [Cornhuskers quarterback] Adrian Martinez is even the book's biggest Heisman Trophy winner liability."