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Coronavirus in NJ: NFL Draft a glimmer of hope for sports betting industry
22nd April, 09:14It's the time of year when the NBA and NHL playoffs are energizing fans everywhere, and Major League Baseball is cranking into high gear, filling the void for the sports betting industry in the aftermath of the NCAA Tournament.
And then there's the NFL Draft, an annual afterthought that provides little more than a spring football fix amid the important games
But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the league's selection meeting, which gets underway remotely with the first round on Thursday night, is being looked at in a different light by gamblers.
With no games being played - at least between teams anyone's ever heard of - the question of where Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will get selected this week takes on greater importance with gamblers in New Jersey, where sports betting gross revenue was down 58.3 percent year-over-year in March, during what was expected to be a record-shattering month for the state.
So you're in luck if you can pick the correct side of the ball for Mr. Irrelevant, the moniker hung on the last player selected in the draft each year. DraftKings is taking action on whether he plays offense, defense or is a kicker/punter/long snapper, with a money line of +1400 on the latter that will win you $140 on a $10 bet.
"The NFL Draft will certainly be a welcome event for New Jersey sportsbooks, which have resorted to table tennis and low-level international soccer as the live events people can bet on," said Dustin Gouker, an industry analyst for the website PlayNJ.com. "It will generate a lot of interest with bettors, but it's still going to be a relatively small chunk of handle and revenue compared to the bets that would normally be placed now on basketball, baseball and hockey if they were all going on. I think the general consensus I've heard is the draft will generate roughly the handle of a primetime NFL game, but it certainly has an opportunity to perhaps do more than that.
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"So it's less a chance to generate meaningful revenue, and more of a chance to engage with existing customers or attract new users who might want to put a bet down on the draft."
Gross revenue for sports betting was $21.2 million for the state last April, but all wagering is currently being done online, with brick-and-mortar sports books closed due to the current health crisis. The NFL Draft could provide a glimmer of hope for the industry, with FanDuel, which has partnered with the Meadowlands Racetrack on sports betting, experiencing a three-fold increase in wagering year-over-year in early betting on the draft.
What type of wagers are available?
One involves selecting the first three picks in the exact order, with the worst odds on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow going No. 1, and Ohio State teammates Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah going second and third, respectively. But if you think, for instance, the Washington Redskins or someone else will take Tagovailoa with the second pick overall, with Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr. going with the third pick, the odds are +10000 on FanDuel, meaning a $10 bet would win you $1,000.
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Another betting option is trying pick the first three wide receivers that come off the board in the exact order. The favorite is Jerry Jeudy first, CeeDee Lamb second and Henry Ruggs III going third, with a money line of +240.
How about picking the second defensive player drafted? If you bet on Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray, a $10 bet would win you $600.
At BetMGM.com, there's an expansive list of betting options on the draft, ranging from action the first player taken at each position, the number of trades that will be made in the first round and the number of Clemson players selected in the first round, to name a few.
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If you're interested in what side of the ball the first player drafted by the New York Jets will play on, the odds are much better that it will be on defense, with a line of -556 that it will be on offense. As for the exact position of the first player selected by the New York Giants, there isn't much money to be made on it being an offensive lineman.
William Hill, which has partnered with Monmouth Park, has a large number of player prop bets. They range from the number of Big Ten players taken in the first round, with an over/under of 5.5, to the number of offensive players selected in the first round, with the line set at 16.5.