In case you missed it, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) decided to shut down operations this week and cancel the remainder of its inaugural season. Yep, just gonna close down shop, without Dandy Don Meredith singing that ol’ Willie Nelson song.
So what happens to futures bets for the league’s championship? Well, FanDuel Sportsbook has a happy ending to the sad story.
FanDuel declared the Orlando Apollos the 2019 AAF Champions Wednesday and will pay out all futures bets accordingly, the company said in a release. And not only bets on the Orlandos — for every futures bet placed on ANY team to win the championship.
“The AAF should be commended for trying to do something disruptive in the sports landscape, and we hope this symbolic gesture shows the players and coaches that sports fans everywhere appreciated the hard work and sacrifices they made for entertaining us with Spring Football,” said Mike Raffensperger, CMO of FanDuel Group. “While we’ve declared the Apollos honorary champions, we think the biggest winners should be our customers and hope they enjoy their payouts.”
According to FanDuel, the futures payout promotion cost the company less than $10,000.
Risky league goes awry
The AAF failed like so many spring football challengers before, unable to produce the revenue needed for the capital-heavy start-up. Despite gaining national TV deals and drawing fans in big cities, even the cash bailout from Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon couldn’t get them to the finish line.
The league had some highlights early on but couldn’t maintain interest. Fans, media, and others claim an inelastic demand for football, apparently not when it’s neither the big leagues or college.
With two weeks to go, the 7-1 Apollos proved the class of the start-up league. The company claimed if they had the power, they would name Steve Spurrier AAF Coach of the Year.
FanDuel actually took a different approach to the folding than competitors. Others, including PointsBet and the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, announced all bets would be refunded, including some that were already guaranteed to lose.
Bettors now bored?
The league sought to fill the void created once the Super Bowl ends in February. Having markets like New Jersey to offer betting was supposed to help things.
Honestly, the games didn’t draw a lot of attention in the consumer-saturated Northeast. Maybe lacking a team in one of the area’s major markets would have helped.
Fans have seen the WFL, USFL, WLAF (Mouse Davis remains an all-time football name), and others come and go. This was the first time widespread regulated betting played a factor.
We’ll see how much betting really took place when states release March revenue reports. However, overall sentiment is there wasn’t much handle overall on the AAF.
So what have the books learned? We’ll have to wait until next year when Vince McMahon re-launches the XFL.