Sports betting ramps up for NFL season
Legal Sports Report

The Week In Sports Betting: NFL Betting Kicks The Market Into Overdrive

Sports betting news

For the first time, US sportsbooks outside of Nevada are booking legal bets as the NFL season kicked off. Even before that, folks were able to bet on preseason games at MetLife Stadium on their smartphones — and do so legally.

Much of the sports betting news this week centered on implications for bettors and operators as America’s true favorite pastime returns. Although a few sportsbooks popped up across the map in early summer, it might as well have been a three-month soft-launch. The doldrums of midseason baseball don’t exactly drive a ton of betting volume.

Football season and expanded sports betting both have arrived in earnest, though, a union formed in the gambling heavens above. Let’s begin on the gridiron, since it is the center stage for US sports betting from now into next year.

NFL season brings NFL news

The NFL season began with a real snoozer on Thursday night — thank goodness for in-play betting — and the league generated a handful of sports betting nuggets leading up to kickoff.

  • Survey says: Research from Nielsen Sports projects annual NFL revenue could increase by $2.3 billion from widespread sports betting. The majority of that will come from direct consumption of broadcasts, ticket sales and merchandise.
  • Fantasy: Although the NFL stands to be the biggest beneficiary of widespread betting, it is having some trouble getting out of its own way. A lingering fantasy sports lawsuit in Texas underscores the lack of clarity in league policies on gambling.
  • Cowboy Up: That said, the league’s stance is evolving. Owners recently agreed to allow casino sponsorships, and the Dallas Cowboys promptly partnered with WinStar World, which is owned by the Chickasaw Nation. It is the first official partnership between an NFL team and a casino company.
  • Keep your head up: Some of the league’s new playing rules are making it harder for sportsbooks to handicap games. At least one prominent Las Vegas bookmaker is taking a wait-and-see approach to moving lines in response to the use-of-helmet rule.

The New York Giants will open their season at home in NJ this weekend, so let’s see what the betting options look like in the Garden State.

New Jersey market filling in fast

Like pretty much every week since May 14, this week was a busy one for NJ sports betting. The scramble to launch online platforms in time for NFL season drew three more operators into the market, doubling the number of available options.

  • FanDuel Sportsbook: It’s here! FanDuel Sportsbook soft-launched on Saturday, revealing a product as polished and market-ready as any of its competition. The platform serves as a portable version of its retail sportsbook at The Meadowlands, directly adjacent to MetLife Stadium.
  • William Hill: Without much fanfare, William Hill also launched its online/mobile sportsbook on Saturday. It is one of the rare operators that uses both its own software and its own brand, though it does rely on casino partnerships for market access.
  • Caesars: Just hours before kickoff, Caesars dropped its updated app onto virtual store shelves. Sportsbook functionality is incorporated into the existing Caesars NJ online casino platform, with Scientific Games providing the tech.

Those platforms join DraftKings Sportsbook, playMGM, and SugarHouse Sportsbook as the legal options for online betting in NJ.

There are also eight retail sportsbooks up and running, and it looks like another is on the way shortly. This week, Eldorado Resorts formed an alliance with Will Hill for its operations. Eldorado owns Tropicana in Atlantic City, plus properties in a dozen other states.

Meanwhile, Ocean Resort is done turning its temporary sportsbook into the finished version. Meadowlands also finished the last coat of paint on its retail upgrades, too, including prominent FanDuel Sportsbook branding.

It’s also worth giving SBTech a mention. The business-facing supplier delivered the first sports betting kiosks to Golden Nugget this week, as well as Churchill Downs for its casinos down in the bayou.

If you’re in NJ and not sure where to get a bet down legally, J.R. Duren made this handy-dandy guide just for you.

News from other states

All eyes were on New Jersey this week, but there was a good bit of chatter elsewhere on the map, too.

Takes and tidbits

We’ll leave you, as we normally do, with some relevant bits of news that don’t fit neatly into one of the categories above. There are a few especially juicy morsels left over this week.

  • Come on, tennis!: Perhaps more than any major sport, tennis seems to have an integrity iussue. During a recent US Open match, the chair umpire left his perch to give the problematic Nick Kygrios a pep talk between games. In a truly strange turnaround for players and bettors alike, Kygrios came back to win the match.
  • Getting out: While many folks are scrambling to establish a foothold in the US gambling market, Dan Gilbert wants out. The billionaire owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers is looking to sell off his stake in Jack Entertainment, potentially to avoid a conflict of interest with sports betting.
  • Social medi-uhhh…: The guy running the DraftKings Sportsbook account on Twitter could be doing a better job, frankly. His tone is cheeky and engaging and all, but several tweets that would likely raise regulatory eyebrows have required deletion, like this one. And this one.
  • Sledgehammer: A guest post from Josh Linforth of BetGenius offers some well-seasoned advice to new US sports betting operators. Not surprisingly, Linforth suggests employing companies like his to manage digital marketing and brand engagement.
  • One more time … : for the people in the back: Stop using data from offshore sportsbooks! This week, it was a CBS Sports partner citing percentages of bets placed on a few different teams. The problem is the quoted sportsbook is literally unregulated and openly violating federal law. STOP.

Believe it or not, that’s pretty much everything you need to know to get caught up on the news and gossip. We’ve now reached the portion of the calendar in which we plant ourselves near the TV to sweat tickets and lineups all weekend long. Take the ‘over’ on the number of hours we’ll spend on the couch.

Apologies for not providing any daily fantasy sports tips for you in this recap, too. Here’s one: Don’t start Le’Veon Bell this week. Seriously though, PlayPicks is the best spot if you’re looking for advice that’s a bit more useful.

Happy holidays, see you on Monday.

Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.