In what’s arguably turning into the most eventful week in the brief history of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), DraftKings Sportsbook announced Wednesday that it would begin offering lines on the league’s games immediately.
And they’re not the only ones.
MGM Resorts International, the league’s official gaming partner, posted AAF betting markets for the first time Wednesday at its New Jersey sportsbook as well. MGM had already offered point spread and over/under bets for the first two weeks of AAF games in its Las Vegas brick-and-mortar sportsbook and on the Nevada edition of its playMGM app.
Then, late Wednesday afternoon, futures odds on the league winner were posted for the first time on FanDuel Sportsbook. Kevin Hennessy, FanDuel’s Director of Publicity, informed TheLines.com via e-mail that AAF Week 3 odds will be posted closer to the weekend.
Delayed rollout of AAF betting in New Jersey
A look at the DraftKings Sportsbook app reveals the operator is already offering moneyline bets on AAF games in addition to wagers on point spreads and projected game totals. Moreover, DK is also offering futures bets on the eventual AAF champion. As per an e-mail from DK’s Brian Brown, the company has “plans to expand in the future” with respect to the type of wagers offered.
DraftKings — along with the rest of New Jersey’s sportsbooks — notably sat out the first two weeks of AAF action. That was a somewhat curious development, considering the potential of pro football betting markets.
Given the statewide moratorium, it’s evident the approval process required by the Division of Gaming Enforcement was part of the reason for delay. But Brown adds that in DK’s case, the operator was “evaluating the AAF as a potential add-in” as well.
One aspect of that vetting process could have well been tied in to oddsmakers seeking a better feel for each team. Setting lines for upstart leagues in any sport is inherently challenging. Doing so without even a week of sample size is exponentially difficult.
League’s recent financial tumult also a factor?
Moreover, in a separate e-mail response to a request for clarification of what other AAF-based betting options DK Sportsbook could eventually offer, Brown explained the company will “be keeping an eye on the state of the AAF and our users’ interaction with those bet types [that will be initially offered] to determine next steps.”
The reference to monitoring the state of the league itself particularly stands out. Even as it seems a tad cryptic, it’s with good reason. Tuesday, Darren Rovell of The Action Network relayed some rather disconcerting news that implied the league’s very future was in peril after just a week of play:
The AAF missed payroll in Week 1. They told agents that it was a glitch with switching to a new administrator. They told players would be paid by today the latest.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 19, 2019
Rovell’s tweet was preceded by the Athletic’s original report on the matter. That story included the news that Tom Dundon, owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, recently provided a $250 million cash infusion that kept the league afloat. The AAF just began play Feb. 9 and has two weeks’ worth of games in the books. The league features eight league-controlled teams playing a 10-week regular season, one round of playoffs and a championship game on April 27.
Subsequent statements from both Dundon and the AAF have labeled the 47-year-old billionaire’s contribution as buy-in and not bailout. Irrespective of the terminology, Dundon characterizes the new money as capable of keeping the league “viable for years and years to come”, which is the more salient point.
More AAF New Jersey sportsbook dominos likely to fall
With DraftKings, FanDuel and MGM now offering odds on the league, the assumption is that the likes of 888 Sportsbook and BetStars NJ will soon follow suit (UPDATE: BetStars NJ is offering AAF wagers on point spreads, moneylines and projected totals as of Thursday morning).
Garden State precedent seemingly dictates that AAF betting is likely to be offered on a statewide basis in fairly short order. To date, New Jersey sportsbooks have essentially mirrored each other when it comes to the betting markets offered.