Andrew Luck’s Retirement Causes Chaos for Sportsbooks
Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback Andrew Luck shocked the NFL on Saturday, announcing his retirement from professional football at the age of 29.
During a press conference held immediately after a smattering of fans booed Luck’s last appearance on home turf following a preseason game against the Chicago Bears, the recently re-injured standout signal-caller explained his motivations for leaving the game:
“I’ve been stuck in this process,” Luck told reporters via NFL.com. “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live. It’s taken the joy out of this game. The only way forward for me is to remove myself from football.
This is not an easy decision. It’s the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me.”
Luck’s decision to retire less than two weeks before the NFL regular season kicks off sent shockwaves through the league. Inexperienced backup Jacoby Brissett will take the reins of the Colts offense, leaving elite talents like wide receiver T.Y Hilton scrambling to adjust in a newly Luck-less passing game.
But while Indianapolis’ players, opponents, and fans alike will have 17 weeks to adjust, sportsbook operators were forced to change odds on their Colts-related wagers on the fly.
Colts Futures Betting Impacted in Big Way
In the days before Luck’s announcement, online sportsbook Bovada listed his Colts as heavy (-110) favorites to win the AFC South division title:
Odds to Win AFC South
|Team||Odds to Win AFC South (on 8/19/19)|
Bovada had good reasons for those odds, as a healthy Luck keyed a Colts resurgence last season which saw the team finish 10-6 and win a playoff game.
Fast forward to today, however, and Indianapolis has slid to the divisional basement at (+500), while the defending AFC South champion Houston Texans have become (+130) favorites:
Odds to Win AFC South
|Team||Odds to Win AFC South (on 8/26/19)|
As for the team’s odds to win Super Bowl 54, the Colts opened at (+1600) on Bovada with a presumably healthy Luck at the helm. That number put the team among the NFL’s Top-10 contenders for a Super Bowl win heading into the 2019 campaign.
But absent Luck’s veteran leadership and otherworldly talent, Indy fans have watched their team’s chances to hoist the Lombardi Trophy plummet to (+5000). That means only 11 teams have worse odds on a Super Bowl victory, and puts the loss of Luck into clear context in the process.
As for the land-based sportsbooks in Sin City, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on several prominent bet shops moving the proverbial needle on Colts futures.
CG Technology had the Colts as (-140) favorites to take the AFC South, but they currently stand as (+600) longshots today.
The Westgate SuperBook had the Colts at (+600) to represent the AFC as conference champs in the Super Bowl, but that number has ballooned to (+1500). Westgate SuperBook oddsmakers also moved the Colts from (+1200) to (+3000) on a Super Bowl title.
Westgate SuperBook executive director John Murray told the Review-Journal he believes the combination of an offensive guru head coach and a talented backup QB give the Colts a puncher’s chance to remain competitive without Luck:
“I thought (Luck) was one of the three best quarterbacks in the league when healthy, but I don’t think they’ll just fall off completely because Frank Reich is a good coach and Jacoby Brissett is one of the best backups in the league.”
Tony Miller – Murray’s counterpart at the Golden Nugget sportsbook – told the local newspaper that his operation was forced to make wholesale adjustments across the spectrum of Colts-related wagers:
“It just changes so much. When it broke, we took down just about everything.
Odds to make the playoffs, season wins, division odds, conference odds, just about everything you can bet on them.”
Speaking of Westgate, the sportsbook will offer refunds to anyone who bet on Andrew Luck winning NFL MVP in 2019. The Action Network’s Darren Rovell reported the sportsbook will give bettors their money back if they made the now-unwinnable wager, including this $1,000 wager.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 26, 2019
Week 1 Spread vs. Chargers Shifts Significantly
As for the Colts’ opening week game against the Los Angeles Chargers, newly opened Las Vegas bookmaker Circa Sports previously had Indianapolis as underdogs with a point spread ranging from (+4) to (+6).
Now that Luck has taken his leave though, that spread was moved to Colts (+7.5) at Circa Sports betting windows in Downtown Las Vegas.
CG Technology had the Week 1 contest as L.A. (-4) with Luck in the fold, before bumping that number up to (-9.5) when the retirement news initially hit social media.