Paying attention to an NFL preseason game, to quote Patches O’Houlihan, is about as useful as a poopy-flavored lollipop.
Sure, Thursday night’s game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants afforded fans to catch first glimpses of Cleveland’s top-overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield as well as electric running back Saquon Barkley of the Giants.
But overreacting (or even reacting) to such a game is as pointless as ordering a salad at McDonald’s. It’s like doing a fantasy football mock draft and bragging about your picks, only for the real draft to come around and you end up looking like a remedial student opening the textbook for Existentialist Thought and its Effects on Quantum Physics.
That said, Thursday’s “There’s Nothing Else To Watch So Here’s This” game was historic. Played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the preseason matchup was not about two first-round picks squaring off. Across the street from the stadium is FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack, at which a number of bettors placed wagers for the game. And from their seats inside MetLife, fans opened up the DraftKings Sportsbook app for in-play betting.
As ESPN‘s Ben Fawkes said, “What a time to be alive.”
Landmark moment for sports betting
Online sports betting is not fresh-out-of-the-box new for NFL games. In London, where several games are played each season, there are mobile sportsbooks available for fans to lay down wagers from their seat at the game.
In the US, however, this is uncharted territory. Certainly, there were knowledgeable fans heading to MetLife for the game who were already aware of DraftKings Sportsbook, which soft-launched last week and became available to everyone Monday. But for those who were not savvy, DraftKings made sure those folks were properly informed of the product.
DraftKings just plastering Secaucus station to remind those on the way to MetLife that we’re now in New Jersey where it’s totally legal to gamble on sports on your phone. pic.twitter.com/9V7QepajI3
— Trash Tyler (@tylerlauletta) August 9, 2018
That set the stage for the first NFL game on American soil during which fans could place legal bets from the “comfort” of their own seats inside the stadium.
Live free and bet hard
According to Fawkes’ story on ESPN, DraftKings said there were no restrictions for mobile betting at MetLife. In-game wagering was available throughout the game until late in the fourth quarter, when the game was taken off the board.
No sports betting handle or revenue was reported by DK Sportsbook, but FanDuel told ESPN that the Browns-Giants game accounted for 30 percent of the book’s handle Thursday night. (In Las Vegas, the game was much lower, down near 10 percent at Westgate.)
Certainly, there are detractors from legalized sports betting, especially when it concerns preseason football. With DK Sportsbook promoting itself hard leading up to the game, several Twitter-ers decided to ruin the party, like the kid on a Friday afternoon who tells the teacher she forgot to assign homework for the weekend.
“If you are betting on a browns/giants preseason game you just might have a gambling problem,” one user wrote. Another added, “If you are betting on Browns Giants preseason game, get help. Seriously get help. You have a gambling problem.”
Regardless of this group, mobile sports betting is alive and well in the Garden State. It will be kicking in London for three NFL games in October as well. This is the new world. We’re all just living in it — and enjoying the ride along the way.