NFL Draft Betting Is Back: Nevada Regulators Approve Expanded Wagering Again

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NFL Draft betting

For decades, sportsbooks in Nevada had been restricted to on-field athletic events. Bettors could speculate on the outcome of a game or series of games, but not on the color of the Gatorade used for the celebratory douse.

Many of these “propositional” options are available via offshore sportsbooks, though, and Nevada regulators have relaxed their restrictions in recent years. Awards like the Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP have become fair betting fodder, along with limited esports betting.

Betting on the NFL Draft is back on the board, too.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board first approved prop bets surrounding the draft last year, and it’s granted sportsbooks expanded permissions to offer more than 30 types of bets this season.

The 2018 NFL draft starts on April 26 in Arlington, Texas.

2018 NFL Draft betting

The GCB approved these expanded wagers earlier this week, as first reported by David Purdum and ESPN.

Under last year’s approval, sportsbooks were not permitted to offer player-specific bets. While Myles Garrett’s draft position was the subject of much verbal speculation, books could not allow financial speculation. There were still 17 available bet types, but they were limited to things like whether more offensive or defensive players would be drafted, or which universities they’d represent.

That’ll be different this year. The GCB has approved 32 types of bets for the 2018 draft, nearly doubling the slate. Among the additions, bettors will be able to wager on a player’s draft position, both in comparative and absolute terms.

If this year mirrors 2017, there’ll likely be a similar approval for the NBA Draft soon. Nevada sportsbooks have already been granted permission to accept bets on the season-ending awards for the upcoming MLB and NCAA seasons.

By most accounts, last year’s NFL draft betting was considerably more popular than expected. So will it be available in other states in the future?

NFL draft betting in other states?

For the time being, Nevada is still the only state that’s allowed to book these sorts of bets. Most sorts of bets, in fact. The federal ban that limits single-game wagering to Nevada (PASPA) is currently under review by the Supreme Court, though.

Led by New Jersey, more than a dozen states are now making efforts to build their own sports betting industries. West Virginia is among the small group that’s already legalized it, saying it could accept wagers within 90 days of a change to federal law. WV sports betting does not contain any broad restrictions on the types of bets allowed.

Some sports betting bills in other states, however, do give the leagues the power to restrict at their discretion. The NBA and MLB are actively pushing a proposal that grants them this level of control over the industry. MLB counsel, for example, has expressed concern over certain types of in-game wagers.

While we’re on the subject, there’s a small point worth adding here. The leagues are also requesting control over the data sources used to settle bets, proposing what amounts to a “data monopoly.” That request has been controversial in some states, and it’s not part of WV’s law.

It’s not part of Nevada’s law either, which makes one of the GCB’s approval conditions a little strange: “The official source of results shall be” A stipulation like this is not uncommon in approvals, but it does raise an eyebrow given the recent context.

It’s not clear if the NFL itself would approve of betting on the draft, but it is worth noting the league’s lukewarm stance on the overarching issue.

NFL’s stance on sports betting

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has spoken about sports betting at length, usually expressing a forward-thinking approach. His 2014 op-ed in the New York Times is still widely cited more than three years later. MLB’s Rob Manfred has been outspoken, too, working the media and state lawmakers in an effort to shape ongoing legislation. Both commissioners support the expansion of sports betting as long as its done with consideration to their requests.

Roger Goodell’s stance is less clear, though. The NFL commish has historically expressed disdain for sports gambling, and the league is one of the litigants in the NJ sports betting case. When asked about sports betting, Goodell typically slips into non-committal lines limited to the issue of integrity. But his recent comments on the topic are more vague. He certainly doesn’t support sports betting, but he’s no longer expressing the same level of opposition.

It seems likely that Goodell has some personal reservations about the activity, but the league’s stance has shifted underneath him. The Oakland Raiders are set to become the Las Vegas Raiders in the coming years, relocating right into the breadbasket of legal sports betting.

A move like that would have been almost unimaginable a decade ago.

Other events/awards approved for Nevada sports betting