NFL and Sportsbooks to Boost Revenues Through Draft, Schedule Expansion

Jay Dieffenbach

Thu Apr 08 2021

NFL and Sportsbooks to Boost Revenues Through Draft, Schedule Expansion

The National Football League has consciously – and successfully – evolved into a year-round sport that has found a burgeoning relationship with sports betting, including its annual player draft.

The futures market, the preseason, the regular season and playoffs have helped to drive sports-betting expansion in the U.S. and all over the world.

But wait, as the commercial says, there’s more!

Millions of fans now immerse themselves in the NFL Draft, finding appropriate prices to fit their opinions.

Bettors wagered $20 million legally on the 2020 draft, but offshore companies and other unlicensed bookmakers may have pushed the number as high as $50 million.

This draft is expected to draw even more. And there are so many ways to proceed.

If you’re the chalk-loving type, you probably should have bet on Trevor Lawrence a few months ago. The Clemson quarterback targeted as the No. 1 pick in the April 29-May 1 draft is now virtually unbettable.

DraftKings had Lawrence at -305 last May, but took enough money to move him all the way out to -10000. Sure, the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Lawrence No. 1, but most people don’t have the appetite to risk five figures for a $100 bump.

FanDuel has him at -9000.

The gambling waters are pretty clear at No. 2, with the Jets seemingly set on BYU QB Zach Wilson.

Sports Illustrated breakdown of the second overall selection says a big trade solidified Wilson’s status:

This market witnessed a substantial move following the New York Jets trade of starting quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. Rumors and speculation linking the Jets to BYU quarterback Zach Wilson intensified after the star quarterback’s televised private workout for scouts.

Previously, there was always wonder if the Jets would trade the No. 2 overall pick for a plethora of picks and/or players. In addition, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was projected by several draft analysts to be the second overall player chosen in the 2021 NFL Draft. Following his impressive workout on March 26, the oddsmakers made Wilson a sizable favorite over Fields. However, the odds doubled on Monday after the Darnold trade seeing Wilson’s odds go from -1000 to -2000 in minutes.

As a result of another trade – the 49ers acquiring the No. 3 pick – the rest of the first round is wide open.

San Francisco is reportedly interested in Alabama’s Mac Jones, but sportsbooks have action all over the place.

PointsBet had Jones at +110 late last week, but DraftKings and BetRivers rated him behind Ohio State’s Justin Fields for the third selection. Each of those operators listed Jones at +150 while Fields was the +125 favorite to go No. 3.

FanDuel had Jones and Fields co-favorites at +150.

The other menu options include where a particular player will be picked.

Among the more popular items:

  • Will a certain player be in the first five picks?
  • Who will be the first quarterback picked?
  • Who will be the second quarterback picked?
  • Who will be the third quarterback picked?
  • Who will be the first running back picked?
  • Who will be the first wide receiver picked?
  • Which team will get the first overall pick?

No doubt, the legion of sports-betting NFL followers will ensure the country’s most popular sport remains at the top.

Darnold Trade Met with a Shrug by Bookmakers

To the surprise of almost no one, the Carolina Panthers’ acquisition of former New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold didn’t change their Super Bowl odds, listed at 60-1 via William Hill.

For that matter, the Jets’ odds didn’t move off of 125-1, either.

At this point, Darnold may not even be a step up from 2020 starter Teddy Bridgewater.

The Jets, despite owning the No. 2 overall pick – widely believed to be BYU quarterback Zach Wilson – are tied for the longest odds with the Houston Texans, Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals.

“No adjustments on either at this point,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Jets were moving on and targeting (Brigham Young QB) Zach Wilson in the draft.

“Regarding the Panthers, not sure Darnold beats out (QB Teddy) Bridgewater.”

Extra, Extra (Game): NFL Wins Again

The NFL and the players’ union already made each other some big cash with the expansion of wild-card weekend prior to the 2020 season. Four playoff games became six.

Part of that collectively bargained agreement also included something that is inarguably a revenue booster: One more week of regular-season games.

The change, though not yet officially official, is pretty much official. It will bring the season to 18 weeks in a development that also benefits the sports-betting industry.

There will be only one off week for players, who are the only people not seeing a big benefit from the move.

“This is great news for bettors and bookmakers alike,” PointsBet USA head of trading Jay Croucher said in a story. “Preseason activity, while larger for the NFL than any other pro sport, is tiny compared with regular-season betting. The additional week of regular-season games will be a significant driver for overall NFL handle.”

There is also the competitive advantage to consider.

“While you’ve heard grumblings from players about the extra week, we are thrilled,” Circa Sports operations director Jeff Benson told Covers. “An additional week of regular-season NFL is great for all sportsbooks, and even better that it comes at the expense of one less preseason (week), which typically sees a majority of sharp money.”

Nevada handle figures show an expectation of more than $50 million in additional NFL wagers at the state’s sportsbooks.

Jay Dieffenbach
Jay Dieffenbach