Circa Sports’ Jeff Benson on NFL Draft Betting, Will Levis, Illinois Launch

Written By Eli Hershkovich on April 26, 2023
NFL Draft Betting

With NFL draft odds heating up ahead of Thursday evening, bookmakers have had their hands full. That is unequivocally the case for Circa Sports, showcasing an industry-high limit of $1,000 for NFL draft betting props.

Below, Jeff Benson — the sportsbook’s director of operations — shares how it has tackled specific markets, the intrigue surrounding Will Levis, and even an updated timeline for Circa’s fourth up-and-running state.

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Don’t Fall Asleep At NFL Draft Betting Wheel

Early Tuesday morning, one of the top trending posts on Reddit was from a user named “SaleAgreeable2834.” It served up the notion that Levis, a projected top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, told family and friends that he’ll be selected with the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers.

Keep in mind, this account was created just six days ago. Nevertheless, it’s one of the many NFL draft betting rumors to impact the odds board in recent weeks. It isn’t the bookmakers nor traders initially reacting themselves. Depending on the sportsbook, a $50 limit bet from a well-respect customer may be all it takes to move the number.

Why? Because some operators aren’t willing to have nearly as much exposure for markets that are out of their control.

As previously stated, that isn’t the case at Circa Sports. With that said, the sportsbook’s limit on NFL draft betting markets is understandably lower than a given NFL Sunday. Last season, those game limits settled in at $200,000 on the sportsbook’s mobile app.

“With what happened with Paolo Banchero in the NBA draft last year, you kind of have to throw your opinion out the door,” Benson said. “When you take a limit bet on Bryce Young, you’re going to chop the odds. If you take another one, you’re (of course) going to chop the odds even more.

“You don’t want don’t want to go into the draft with a six-figure liability. To a certain extent, it (draft betting) isn’t like a normal futures pool. You (bookmakers and traders alike) have to move extremely, extremely aggressively.”

NFL Draft Betting Market Adjustments

Unlike other sportsbooks, Circa provides a smaller menu of props for Thursday’s main event. They’re comprised of the No. 2 overall pick, draft position, player matchups, and position props. This strategy allows them take more higher-stake bets than the competition.

“There’s no re-offer for $6.37,” Benson said. “Everything shoots straight through. It’s a consistent user experience. If we are putting something on the board, we better be damn well sure we’re going to take a fair and respectable bet.”

Of late, Benson pointed out that Young’s odds were hit to go second overall, thanks to the aforementioned Levis hearsay. They’ve since risen to +850 at the time of publish.

Additionally, the over on total quarterbacks drafted in the first round (4.5) has been steamed up to -185. The vig in this market was as high as -165 in the other direction on April 3. This movement revolves around Tennessee product Hendon Hooker, who could slide into the back end of the first round.

Front offices league-wide want to secure the fifth-year option of his rookie contract by drafting him before the second round. It provides them with a significant salary cap advantage if the prospect pans out. The Minnesota Vikings have reportedly been connected to Hooker at No. 23 overall to theoretically replace Kirk “Captain Checkdown” Cousins down the line. They’re even the betting favorite (+350) to land his services.

Both Will Anderson and Paris Johnson’s draft position odds are among other noteworthy props on the move. The edge rusher (O/U 3.5) is juiced to the over at -150 while Benson & Co. have seen serious action on the under — all the way to -300 — for the left tackle Johnson (O/U 9.5).

On April 18, Anderson represented the NFL draft betting favorite for the Houston Texans with the No. 2 selection. Texas Tech product Tyree Wilson currently occupies that spot across the board (+125). Levis ranges from +190 to +300 in this market.

New Circa Property On Horizon

In May 2022, Circa Sports registered for a Management Services Provider license in Illinois. It hasn’t been approved for full operation.

But according to Benson, that is tentatively set to change in the neighborhood of three to five months. Assuming the hearing with the Illinois Gaming Board goes as planned, The Temporary by American Place — located in Waukegan, Ill. — will be the first retail Circa Sportsbook outside of Nevada.

“It’s taken us, admittedly, longer than we would’ve liked,” he said. “Once we get the green light and sign off, we look forward to providing sports betting the way it should be in Illinois.”

Next April, Illinois residents should have the opportunity to steer their NFL draft betting picks in Circa’s direction.

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