- Despite the NBA and NHL playoffs occurring, NFL betting made up the bulk of the wagers over the weekend.
- The American Gaming Association estimates a 29% increase in NFL bets this year.
- The Sunday slate of NFL games alone was able to generate an equal betting handle at DraftKings to that of the Super Bowl.
NEW YORK – With Week 1 of the NFL in the books, bettors and sportsbooks are now able to look at the weekend for the NFL betting bonanza that it was.
On Saturday, college football teams across the country kicked off their 2020 season. On Sunday the U.S. Open Men’s Singles final took place. And on both days, the NBA and NHL playoffs took place. But these sporting events, along with UFC, NASCAR, and other sports, couldn’t take the spotlight away from the NFL.
To get a better handle on the NFL betting handle, LegalSportsBetting got a chance to talk with DraftKings Head of Sportsbook, Johnny Avello.
NFL Week 1 Betting Handle
It was no secret that sports fans around the country were anticipating the return of football. But there had been other sports ongoing before it started.
When the MLB returned it was the first of the four major American sports to do so. But how did Opening Day for baseball compare to Week 1 for football?
“MLB start was really good. I believe those two games broke all records for any baseball games that we’ve ever handled and that includes World Series. But they don’t compare to NFL. Our NFL opening day on Thursday was outstanding and then on Sunday all those games combined were on equal parallel with Super Bowl handles…It even exceeded my expectations,” said Avello.
But, Avello was quick to note that there are certain factors that could skew the data when looking from year to year. The most notable of those differences is that DraftKings Sportsbook currently operates in more states than ever before.
NFL Betting Insights After Week 1
As should have been expected by fans and bettors across the country, Week 1 came with many surprises and upsets across the board.
Betting on the NFL this year came with an extra challenge because the preseason was entirely canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Week 1 was the first look at these teams for sportsbooks and sports bettors and the results showed.
“Tampa bay took a bunch of money. They were played heavily as well as the Colts. I think what happened in Week 1 is that the Jaguars and the Washington Redskins were perceived as the worst teams in the NFL. Now, with that being said, what I’m aware of now before the start of the season is that the home-field advantage may be a little stronger than I think even without fans in the stands. I also noticed that there are teams that didn’t skip a beat. They didn’t need to play preseason because they are already in mid-season form as usual. The Packers and the Vikings scored a bunch of points. The Saints and the Ravens as well so the teams that have proficient offenses didn’t need practice but there is a lot of teams that do,” said Avello.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers most notably acquired quarterback Tom Brady over the offseason and the Indianapolis Colts picked up quarterback Philip Rivers. Both NFL veterans had less than stellar performances in their debut, which seemed to work in favor for sportsbooks.
NFL And It’s Affect On NHL, NBA Betting, Etc.
With so much emphasis placed on NFL betting from the sportsbook’s perspective and the bettor’s perspective, it raises the question. Will the NFL take away from betting on other events such as the NBA Finals or the Stanley Cup Finals?
“I don’t think so, I don’t think college or pro will because college is played on Saturday and NFL is played on Sunday for the most part. Yes, there is a Thursday night game and yes there is a Monday night game, but pro basketball and hockey are going to be played on days when the NFL is not going to be played. And the NBA and the NHL have a way to move those games into a primetime location where they don’t compete,” said Avello.
From the sounds of it, the other sports will get their share of the betting pie as long as they don’t try to air their games against the NFL.
NFL Betting Vs. Fantasy Football
Specifically, DraftKings’ online sportsbook operates in New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Illinois, West Virginia, and Colorado.
But with the option of single-game wagering available, could the engagement of fantasy football and daily fantasy sports as a whole go down?
“Absolutely not it has not gone down. Daily fantasy is doing as well as it’s ever done. Daily fantasy and sports are two different types of wagering entities and they’re looked at it that way from the bettors. So, since sports came on board, Daily fantasy has just gone north. I’m really happy to report that both are doing well.”
Will Betting On The NFL Save Sportsbooks In 2020?
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic occurring across the country, close to all sporting events were postponed or outright canceled.
The most notable of these events was March Madness. In 2019 the American Gaming Association (AGA) estimated that $8.5 billion dollars was going to be bet on the event. The numbers were expected to be even higher in 2020 but the event never got the chance.
But the AGA estimates a 29% increase in the number of NFL bets placed this year over last year. But will it be enough to cover the losses incurred earlier in 2020? For DraftKings, that never seemed to be a problem.
“First of all, we did not take a hit at Draftkings,” said Avello. “We took a hit on content, but we were able to pivot and do other things. You know table tennis and epsorts and simulated NASCAR and we did a really good job with that. So, when you look overall at the numbers, for us, it wasn’t that big of a loss if any. So we felt really well positioned coming into the NFL. We learned a lot from that. That there are some sports that our customers want to continue wagering on. We’ve added those sports to our menu as well as everything else coming back into full stride. So, it’s not the NFL that’s going to carry us; it’s just everything that we did prior to that.”
– In his career, Hasan has worked both local and state government positions—including the Attorney General’s Office in Florida. On top of being familiar with the legislative process, he has also been researching and writing on the legality of sports betting across the US. Outside of work you’ll most likely find him producing or playing music, playing sports, or working on creative writing projects. You’ll also catch him at Doak Campbell Stadium cheering on the Noles.