Across the desolate US sports wagering landscape that is devoid of live pro and college events due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Football League represents an oasis.
Check any of the primary online sportsbooks.
Your current worldwide betting options consist of soccer matches from the Belarusian Premier League and Nicaraguan Primera Division and Belarusian hockey. Also, there are professional table tennis matches in the Ukraine, Russia and China and little else prior to some tentatively scheduled MMA matches on April 18.
As for the United States pro and college sports, that leaves the futures market, and the NFL options are plentiful. They range from customary Super Bowl champion odds and upcoming season team win totals to the variety of April’s NFL Draft props to the relatively new free-agent destination odds.
The NFL futures, always popular with bettors in the normal off-seasons, are seeing a noticeable — and predictable —increase in handle. Especially since live game NBA, Major League Baseball and NHL action are currently on indefinite hold as we move further into spring.
NFL futures handle is hot
Stephen Miraglia, the director of communication at DraftKings, said on Monday that the sportsbook’s NFL futures handle and the number of wagers in New Jersey has increased five times from their respective numbers a year ago.
Across the US, where several states offering legalized sports wagering continues to expand, Miraglia said DraftKings Sportsbook customers are betting, on average, 33% more on NFL futures than they did in 2019.
Getting some money down in an attempt to cash in on next season’s Super Bowl champ remains one of the most popular NFL futures wagers.
Super Bowl LV is scheduled on Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, FL. Naturally, the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites to repeat across the board(s), sitting at +600 Monday at DraftKings, BetMGM.com and Fox Bet, and +650 at FanDuel.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are hoping to garner the franchise’s second Lombardi Trophy on their home field next winter, have crashed the contingent of favorites. With the recent signing of six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, and their odds ranged Monday from +1600 (DraftKings and BetMGM) to +1800 (Fox Bet).
Interestingly, those odds are slightly higher than those of Brady’s former team, the New England Patriots, which range from +1800 (DraftKings) to +2200 (Fan Duel).
The Bucs, meanwhile, have had only one winning season (9-7 in 2016) since 2010 and own the NFC’s second-longest drought (2002) without a playoff victory.
Draft prop, free agency options continuing to expand
Due to the COVID-19 regulations and shutdowns, the April 23-25 NFL Draft won’t be the extravagant, Las Vegas-style showcase. Still, it will easily be the highlight of April’s sports calendar.
The burgeoning array of draft proposition bets, meanwhile, keeps heading in the opposite direction, with available wagers ranging from the exact order of the first three picks to the over/under figures on the number of first-round selections for respective colleges and conferences to over-under overall selection numbers for a host of the top individual prospects.
DraftKings also has ventured into free agency props, offering current odds on which teams will wind up with quarterbacks Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.
DraftKings jumps into the ‘pool’ to attract bettors
Somewhat surprisingly, Miraglia said that the most popular bet, in terms of both overall handle and the number of wagers, on the organization’s online sportsbook is table tennis.
DraftKings Sportsbook is also offering more than 25 wagering “pools,” ranging from food popularity survey results (Is a hot dog a sandwich?) to temperature predictions in major US cities. There are also MLB popularity pools (the best World Series moment) to forecasting what happens on TV shows such as Shark Tank, Survivor and Chopped.
“While sports and leagues might be on hiatus, DraftKings isn’t,” Miraglia said in an email to Catena Media. “We have a proven track record of creating innovative products that people love and can’t find anywhere else. We continue to work hard to give people a fun escape.”