There are no months off in the NFL betting cycle. Shortly after the Patriots clinched their sixth title in Super Bowl 53, bettors were already looking ahead at futures prices for next season.
The opportunity to wager on the winner of the 2020 Super Bowl was available in mid-January for bettors in Nevada at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. New Jersey operators like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook followed two weeks later with their own early odds for the Super Bowl 54 champ.
The Westgate opened the Los Angeles Rams (6/1) as the early favorite to capture next year’s Vince Lombardi Trophy on Jan. 15. However, the Kansas City Chiefs shifted into the favorite spot as of Feb. 4.
Jeff Sherman, the vice president of risk management at the SuperBook, sent out the updated odds after the Super Bowl came to a close.
NFL Super Bowl LIV (2020) updated
LAR, NO, NE 8/1
LAC, Chi, Pit 14/1
Min, GB, Dal 16/1
Phi, Bal, Ind, Cle, Hou 20/1
Atl, Jax, NYG 40/1
Car, Ten, Den 60/1
TB, NYJ 80/1
Wsh, Det, Buf, Cin, Oak, Ari 100/1
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) February 4, 2019
In New Jersey, the Patriots (+800) opened as the favorite to win at FanDuel Sportsbook a week before the big game. That didn’t change after they won their sixth Super Bowl. New England has opened at 10/1 odds or less every season this decade.
At DraftKings, the Patriots, Chiefs, Rams and Saints were all listed with the shortest odds at +750 (15/2). That means the four teams who advanced to the conference championships in 2019 are the early favorites in the 2020 Super Bowl futures market.
2019-20 Super Bowl 54 Futures Odds
A shot of optimism
The biggest longshot to win the 2020 Super Bowl heading into next season is the Miami Dolphins (300/1 at Westgate). But 100-1 longshots and fans from Washington, Detroit, New York (Jets), Buffalo, Cincinnati, Oakland and Arizona can hold out hope that their team can be the next 1998 St. Louis Rams, who went 13-3 and won Super Bowl XXXIV after opening at 300-1 odds following a 4-12 season in 1997.
Those teams can look at this year’s Chicago Bears as another example of optimism going into next season. The Bears were 100-1 odds to win the 2019 Super Bowl prior to the regular season. Chicago went from five wins the previous season to a 12-4 record and division title before losing in the playoffs on a last-second, “double doink” missed field goal — a bad beat for moneyline bettors but not for those who bet at FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Bears (+1,700 at DraftKings Sportsbook) and LA Chargers (+1,400) are expected to be Super Bowl contenders next season after both made the playoffs this year with 12-4 records. The Indianapolis Colts (+1,400) are among the top 10 favorites to win Super Bowl LIV next year after catching fire late in the year. And even the Cleveland Browns (+2,000) are picking up a lot of steam following a 7-8-1 season.
It’s safe to say that 2018 was about as good of a year for sports betting in the U.S. as it could get (Assuming you like sports betting, which if you’re reading this site, it is a safe assumption.).
Can 2019 be better?
Here are 10 bold predictions for the new year. In short, expect more of what made 2018 great.
10. No less than nine states pass sports betting legislation
Why not start with one of the biggest ones?
Of all the states that have introduced sports betting bills, no less than nine will pass legislation in 2019. New York, Massachusetts, and Kentucky (via a Churchill Downs push) will lead the way, and these states should follow.
9. But California won’t be one of them
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 147 times, shame on me.
Whoever can finally get the competing California gaming interests to get on the same page needs to work on Palestinian-Israeli relations. The online poker push in California had many starts and stops thanks to card rooms, tribes, tracks and operators never getting on the same page.
The sports betting revenue pie exceeds online poker’s revenue greatly, and there’s real progress being made in the state legislature, but don’t expect California to pass a bill until 2020.
8. The next non-golf, made-for-betting event will be esports
The Match provided the template. Where can it go from there?
They’ll partner with an esports team, draw large viewing from a live stream and draw bettors in-house for real-time wagering on their mobile device.
7. ‘In-stadia’ betting gains momentum
On that note, “in-stadia” betting will gain steam. It won’t just be from whatever smart casino employs in-stadia betting for their esports event.
Las Vegas has shown the way, with the Knights and Lights bringing mobile betting into the arena/pitch.
As other states pass sports betting bills, teams will recognize the enormous potential for fan engagement with in-stadia betting. This won’t be a revenue mover for teams, necessarily, but will provide fans with new content and ways to interact during games.
6. Fiat-to-crypto onboarding solved
The single biggest impediment to crypto adoption on gambling platforms is the fiat-to-crypto onboarding process. There’s a bridge needed for the gap between gambling and crypto enthusiasts.
This issue will be solved in 2019, paving the way for holders to fund gaming accounts with cryptocurrency on a broader scale and more extensive adoption.
5. The NCAA takes a hardline stance
If there’s one potential glaring monkey wrench to trip up sports betting in the U.S., it’s in the college ranks.
The NCAA is rightfully concerned. While professional athletes have too much at stake, in most cases, to be persuaded in bribes or providing confidential information, that’s not the case with unpaid student-athletes.
Expect the NCAA to draw a line in the sand on this issue…
4. … and propose some form of revenue sharing
The model to use gambling as a means of subsidizing education isn’t new. The state of Georgia has used lottery proceeds to fund college scholarships going back to the early ’90s. While the NCAA should take a hardline stance, expect discussions around positive use of sports betting proceeds to further educational opportunities (via scholarships) this year.
3. But don’t expect athlete compensation to be discussed
OK; this isn’t very bold. But that’s not happening.
2. The NFL gets on the integrity fee wagon
The NFL is consistently progressive in making changes and adapting. That has not been the case when it comes to sports betting, as the NBA and Adam Silver have been real advocates and drivers there.
However, that will begin to change in 2019.
The NFL is ruthless in its efficiency in squeezing a dollar out of any and every opportunity, and it’s not going to let the sports betting rocket ship go into orbit without taking a seat in the cockpit with the other leagues. Look for the NFL to push for the most apparent monetization play, integrity fees, in 2019.
1. New Jersey eclipses Nevada in total wagers
We’re going super bold on the last one, as New Jersey has a ways to go still, but hear this out.
New Jersey has a unique pocket of singularly owning the northeast. The northeast is a sports fanatic hotbed, and the total population around New Jersey (when including just New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware) is approximately 39.5 million. That equals the approximate 39 million visitors to Las Vegas a year.
Nevada Senate Bill 46 was introduced in the state legislature on Wednesday that would require “the Nevada Gaming Commission to provide by regulation for the operation and registration of tout services and persons associated therewith.”
With the legalization of sports betting in states outside of Nevada, it’s certainly causing a growth spurt in the touting industry. More interest in sports betting means more people trying to make money from selling picks or giving advice about sports gambling.
Touting around sports wagering has long been considered a problematic part of the industry. Many of the people who offer their picks for money 1. are not terribly transparent about their overall accuracy 2. not winning bettors.
Regulating sports betting touts
The legislation makes a number of changes to existing gaming law. But in the 16-page bill, and indeed at the very top of it, is a section that would require touts to register with the state.
The bill does not get too much into details, but the intent — to provide some level of accountability in touting — is clear.
Here is some of what the bill would do:
- It would require registration with state gaming regulators if they own or operate a tout service, or if they have “a significant involvement” with one.
- Touts “may” have to be found “suitable to be associated with licensed gaming, including race book or sports pool operations.”
- Fees for registration would be determined by the Nevada Gaming Commission, which is given authority to take other steps to flesh out regulation of tout services.
The bill would have to pass by a two-thirds majority vote — and be signed by the governor — to become law.
So what’s the bill actually do?
Given the lack of details, there’s a question of what the bill would accomplish in reality.
It would seem like the bill could simply serve to give legitimacy to touts by requiring them to register with the state and pay fees to do what they do. There are no minimum standards of what — if anything — they would have to adhere to keep the registration, or if it would actually help create transparency for those who sell their picks.
It also seems to be problematic to enforce beyond the services that actually exist in Nevada. There are plenty of people just selling generic “sports betting picks” that have nothing to with the Nevada sports betting industry directly and exist outside of the state. They could be touting sports betting picks for people who bet at offshore sportsbooks, land-based bookies around the country or in states with a legal wagering industry, like New Jersey, Mississippi and others.
Transparency in sports betting prediction?
People are paying for sports betting picks and advice, and have for a long time. They do it in the hopes of getting an edge wherever they are betting.
Certainly, creating accountability in that sector would be good for the future of sports betting, because people selling crappy picks for money is a blight on the whole ecosystem.
But is it really a state’s role to get involved in people who tout? It’s a potential slippery slope for dealing with anyone in the advice-giving/prediction-making business. (The difference here is this involves gaming, which is obviously a highly regulated industry to start with.)
Anyway, creating some kind of accountability for sports betting touts is an admirable goal. But it’s not 100 percent clear that this bill would truly change anything on that front.
Leave it to those pushy Northeasterners to try and set the pace for everyone else.
It seems that the combination good old-fashioned homerism and a few bucks in New Jersey has had a far-reaching, topsy-turvy effect on Super Bowl odds all the way out in the desert. A recent PIX11 report spotlighted the flurry of activity that Monmouth Park, Borgata and Ocean Resort Casino have all seen in Big Game futures bets on the Giants in particular.
Unsurprisingly, the defending champion Eagles, with their fervent North Jersey following, aren’t far behind. The lowly Jets are seeing brisk action in their own right, too – even the goofy kid is getting a little lovin’.
Oddsmakers having to adjust on the fly
Bookmakers have had to adjust accordingly in their properties out west.
William Hill has come down from their original 40/1 odds on the Giants winning the Super Bowl LIII to 25/1, largely because of the volume of tickets written in New Jersey.
MGM, which also had 40/1 odds on the G-Men back in late January, has followed suit and made an even more drastic cut – bettors now have to settle for 15/1 if wagering on Big Blue to go all the way. And that sneaky longshot that once was the Jets at 100/1? Those odds have been sliced almost in half due to the Garden State’s flurry of tickets, now sitting at a slightly less appealing 60/1.
The ripple effect has been predictable, but given that Nevada has essentially had sports betting all to itself for decades, also unprecedented prior to the Supreme Court’s decision to eradicate PASPA.
Hints of regional bias had already started emerging earlier this summer. Unsurprisingly, traditionally Lakers-leaning Vegas sportsbook patrons have been plunking down plenty of cash on LA in terms of NBA Finals futures; however, the Celtics hold the distinction of top dog in New Jersey on those same wagers, even post LeBron-signing.
A sign of the times, and it’s likely to continue
These types of circumstances are likely to become increasingly commonplace, at least in states that boast both legalized sports betting and a proximate professional team or two. Bookmakers that operate multiple properties around the country may be in “tweak mode” from time to time as a result, especially while the number of states taking action remains relatively sparse.
And it may not necessarily be limited to futures bets, of course. We could certainly see similar night-to-night — or in the case of football, week-to-week — patterns emerge as each major sport goes through its first full season in a post-PASPA world. To that end, the 2018 NFL campaign should be one of the most intriguing ever from a sports betting perspective, even with only a handful of states accepting wagers.
It could develop into a phenomenon somewhat akin to All-Star Game fan voting, where “popularity bias” often ruins a good thing for someone else. In that scenario, it’s typically a deserving player that gets shut out of an honor due to another’s name recognition and past accomplishments.
The sports betting equivalent — sharp players missing out on potentially bigger scores due to bookmakers mitigating risk on certain underdogs more than they normally had to in the past.
All because some J-E-T-S fans think there’s at least a smidgen of a chance they can ride on Josh McCown’s shoulders all the way to February — and a massive payday.
There’s an interesting article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week discussing the potential impact of Christie v. NCAA on Nevada. If other states can legalize sports betting, will it hurt revenue in Nevada books?
In short: no.
Not even a little?
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo doesn’t think so.
“I don’t think it will affect Nevada at all.”
That’s pretty blunt.
The win for all sportsbooks in Nevada last year was $248.8M. Split between various license holders, that’s (math … math … math) good but not hand-over-fist revenue.
Given declining gross gaming revenue in general, even incremental shrinkage isn’t a positive. But legalized sports betting is coming. From The Stars Group positioning itself as a player with the acquisition of Sky Bet to MGM CEO Jim Murren saying that he’s “very confident” that PASPA will be overturned, it’s just a matter of time.
Can it actually help revenue?
We’ve seen the analog with how a rising tide can raise all boats in the gambling world before: online poker.
The general fear in the early aughts was that the online poker boom would kill brick & mortar business (which says a lot, because poker rooms in Las Vegas in the late ‘90’s were as dead as the Dodo). The opposite happened. Poker room business boomed. The access to playing opened up the market. Expect the same impact with sportsbooks.
With legalized sports betting, more people have access. It also creates competition. Competition creates innovation. More people playing, more sportsbooks push innovative concepts to attract customers, and Las Vegas business booms.
We’ve seen it before, we’ll see it again.
So what exactly happened when Sandoval’s ink turned a bill into law?
First, current Nevada law limited types of wagering
Here was the initial impetus of the bill: Current law limited the types of wagering Nevada’s sportsbooks could take on esports and other events to straight bets.
“The purpose of the bill was to make clear in Nevada law that pari-mutuel wagering on ‘other events,’ which includes esports as well as other non-sporting events such as the WSOP, NBA draft, etc., is permitted,” Jennifer Roberts, of UNLV’s International Center for Gaming Regulation, told Esports Betting Report.
The bill was the brainchild of the UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law, which has students in the gaming law program gain the experience of going through the process of creating or amending laws that affect gaming. Roberts said adjunct professor Greg Gemignani was the leader of the effort.
Sometimes such efforts result in laws, like the case here.
The problem was that the statute that governs pari-mutuel wagering is separate from the statute governing other gaming laws. In order to offer pari-mutuel wagering on esports — if anyone should wish to do so — the state had to amend the law.
Then comes a new bill…
So amend the law is what the Nevada government did.
Sen. Becky Harris, who graduated from the Boyd School of Law, told ESBR she was glad to sponsor the bill.
“When approached, I was happy to help my alma mater develop and usher the bill through the legislature, Harris said. “I believe it is good for the law school, good for Nevada business, and good for the state as a whole. I am fortunate to work with colleagues in the legislature that are willing to pursue new opportunities for our state.”
Will anyone offer this type of esports betting?
That’s certainly up in the air. Although the impetus to clarify the law is one thing, it’s not terribly useful if no one offers such wagering. (Of course, the bill allows pari-mutuel wagering on a lot of things beyond just esports.)
“I’ve heard of possible interest, from a few different parties that might be interested,” Roberts said. “If it’s something that’s in the law, then it’s something that they might pursue. Now they have the opportunity to do it, versus it was unclear before. And the Gaming Control Board needed that clear authority to authorize it.
While no one is likely ready to offer such a product immediately after the ink on the law dries, it could be on some gaming interests’ agendas. One platform in Nevada — USFantasy — already offers pari-mutuel type wagering on tradition. sporting events. It’s not a stretch to think it could adapt its platform to include esports contests.[show-table name=betway]
Las Vegas still working on becoming a worldwide esports hub
The law is also one step toward becoming a hub for esports activities of all types, according to Harris.
“The hope is that this bill, along with other legislation, will encourage growth in the gaming, hospitality and events industry statewide,” Harris said. “Esports events are events that we would like to encourage in Nevada as I believe that our state has the best combination of available event locations, technological infrastructure, lodging, and additional entertainment offerings for esports event operators and fans.”
Earlier this year, the Nevada Esports Alliance launched in response to the developing overlap between esports and gambling. Leaders in government and business have set the goal of making Las Vegas the “esports capital of the world.”
While the new law may just be a small part of that, it still puts Nevada on a path to being a more welcoming environment for esports.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill on Saturday that makes pari-mutuel betting on esports events permissible under the law.
The legislation amends the Nevada statutes regarding pari-mutuel betting systems to include competitive gaming and will go into effect on July 1.
Back in November, state regulators already gave the green light for straight betting on esports. Now, esports wagering, on a pari-mutuel basis is officially a part of the law.
Esports betting bill without word “esports”
While the bill is “the esports betting bill,” it actually doesn’t feature the word “esports” in its language. Instead, competitive gaming in the bill has been included under the “other events” part, which was added to the current list of betting activities.
A hearing held on March 23 served as the pivotal point for the activity to become law. It included a testimony of former professional esports player Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel. He detailed his training regime, which helped convince regulators that esports players are “athletes.”
AG Burnett, chairman of the Gaming Control Board, said:
“Ideally, you would have people coming from all over the globe to compete, with people paying to come in and bet on that event like you would a sportsbook.”
He added that hopefully one day we would see esports events held at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip. That’s a 20,000-seat venue that hosts concerts and UFC fights and eventually for NHL hockey games.
Treating esports in the right way
As esports grows and becomes highly popular around the globe, proper structures have to be added to the activities surrounding it, including esports betting. Making esports wagering a part of the bill is a great example of proper progress.
“Wagering on events other than sports and races continues to gain global popularity, but Nevada statutes regarding the types of events allowed under the pari-mutuel system wagering are unclear,” said Boyd law student Nelson Lambert, testifying before the Senate Committee on Judiciary in March. “Our proposed modifications adapt the Nevada Revised Statutes to suit the growing popularity of these events.”
Nevada’s road to becoming the US esports hub
Besides being the first U.S. state to offer legal betting on esports, Nevada is going big on esports. The area has seen steady developing of local infrastructure towards becoming as welcoming as possible for potential esports events.
The Halo Championship Series and Madden NFL Championship taking place in Millenial Esports’ 15,000 square-foot venue was a success. Moreover, MLG Vegas and the Battle on the Strip also serve as great examples of how perfect the city is for hosting esports events.
As more events pop up, more local players show interest in the growing industry. This should help grow the scene further and attract more fans to the area.
With the progress towards a welcoming esports environment, Las Vegas is on the right path to becoming an esports hub. Additionally, the never-ending growth of the overall esports scene will also play a positive role.
With its popularity, we can expect no shortage of enthusiastic fans to attend these great events.
William Hill US will be taking bets on the 2017 Las Vegas Dreamhack Masters after receiving approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
The CS:GO event runs from February 15 to February 19 and has attracted most of the top names in competitive esports.
William Hill powers 108 sportsbooks and a mobile app in Nevada. All customers will be able to use their preferred betting portal to lay their bets.
Esports betting options will include matchup wagering on quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds of the tournament.
Dreamhack is the second event with legal esports bets
The Dreamhack will be the second event for which the NGCB has authorized wagers. The prize pool for the teams is a hefty $450,000. That is one reason why the top esports teams have put it on their schedules.
The presence of so many big names should ensure a massive audience, both on and offline. Plenty of out of state visitors will be able to take advantage of William Hill’s esports betting options.
Initial odds and the teams taking part are:
- Astralis (3/1)
- Virtus.Pro (7/2)
- Natus Vincere (5/1)
- SK Gaming (6/1)
- Fnatic (7/1)
- Faze Clan (12/1)
- Ninjas In Pyjamas (12/1)
- North (12/1)
- Optic Gaming (16/1)
- Gambit Esports (20/1)
- Cloud9 (30/1)
- Mousesports (30/1)
- Renegades (100/1)
- Tyloo (100/1)
- Misfits (150/1)
- complexity Gaming (200/1)
Esports betting set to grow in Nevada
The news bodes well for the future of esports betting in Nevada. There are a slew of future esports tournaments coming to the state on which William Hill should be able to get similar approval.
Most recently, Millennial Esports announced that it would be hosting the North American Qualifier LAN event in Las Vegas as part of the HALO World Championship.
The event will be the most prestigious yet presented at Millennial’s new esports arena at Neonopolis.
Later in the year in July, the EVO Evolution Championship Series will be returning to the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Last year’s event attracted a record-breaking number of around 15,000 players who completed at least one of the fighting game events. More than 5,000 registered to play the Street Fighter competition.
The event was broadcast on ESPN2 as well as streamed on Twitch, creating a huge audience.
The NVEA wants to drive even more esports in Nevada
The launch of the Nevada Esports Alliance at the end of last week was well-timed to give a push to the burgeoning esports scene in Nevada.
Both Schorr’s Fifth Street Gaming and William Hill US are involved as founding members. They and other stakeholders came together to help establish Nevada as a global esports hub.
The NVEA will work to bring more top tournaments to Nevada working closely with regulators, the state government, academics and the casino and hospitality industry.
The trend, helped along by organizations like the NVEA, is definitely toward more esports in Nevada. William Hill’s esports betting operations look to have a lot of runway for future growth.