Hoosiers ready for NBA

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In a couple weeks’ time, the briefest offseason in NBA history will come to a close.

Just 72 days will have separated the end of the bubble and the beginning of the basketball league’s 2020-21 season once play begins again Dec. 22. But if you were ever contemplating whether there would be any betting fatigue for America’s second-most popular sport, operators will tell you to think again.

“The NBA does numbers for us, night in and night out, no matter where we are,” PointsBet director of communications Patrick Eichner told Gaming Today. “If the NBA played for an additional two or three months, there would likely be no fatigue and it could be the top betting sport in the world.”

The league doesn’t follow that schedule, of course, but the point is still driven home: The thirst for NBA action is not one easily quenched.

Eichner pointed to action in Indiana as one easy example. The basketball-rabid state is hungry enough for any variety of hoops, but the intensity for the Indiana Pacers generally outstrips the typical hometown loyalty one would find in most markets.

Upon the NBA’s 2020 return in the Orlando bubble, local action involving forward T.J. Warren spiked as his scoring outputs increased and kickstarted PointsBet’s basketball volume in Indiana. The company launched in the state about a week before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Eichner said, and the full 2020-21 campaign is the first since the company entered into a multiyear sports betting partnership with the team.

“We were setting up several promotions around him and pushing aggressive signup offers,” he said. “People really took to that. They were hammering every Over possible off those props.”

That may be more of a lightning-in-a-bottle situation, but the company is expected steady volume in the coming days and weeks before the start of the NBA season both in Indiana and its neighbor to the west in Illinois. Eichner said futures bets have been coming in a steady, if not slow, stream, but that such behavior is typical before the urgency of the season’s tipoff nears.

In that respect, Indiana is the flagbearer once more, with bets on the Over for the Pacers’ 39.5 win total the highest among all domestic futures markets.

Michigan gets closer

Similar enthusiasm should be expected down the road for bettors in Michigan, given the announced partnership between the Detroit Pistons and both DraftKings and FanDuel.

DraftKings, according to a company news release, will eventually be offering experience-based prizes to customers, including a trip to an away game, a group event at the team’s Little Caesars Arena and a VIP experience called “Piston for the Day” that includes an honorary contract signing, an in-stadium shootaround, locker-room tour and courtside seating. 

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FanDuel, also through a news release, said it will be offering fan giveaways, exclusive viewing parties and other innovative experiences to enhance the sports betting environment around gamedays.

The exact timeline and manner of such experiences, however, is as clear as mud, and not just because NBA games will be fanless for the foreseeable future. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended a second shutdown of indoor dining, in-school instruction and entertainment venues through at least Dec. 20.

FanDuel Midwest regional manager Jeff Hoose declined further comment when contacted by Gaming Today, referring to the company’s statement. A DraftKings representative did not respond to a request for comment.

In the meantime, online wagering in the state cleared another hurdle to launch after the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules waived the 15 session-day waiting period to approve its rules set. All the same, operators must still earn their online licenses by submitting approval letters from independent testing labs.

The bottom line of the legal jargon: Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director sees January as the most likely start date for online wagering, according to a report from MLive, as opposed to a more hopeful previous outlook of sometime this month.

About the Author
Danny Lawhon

Danny Lawhon

Danny Lawhon is based in West Des Moines, Iowa, and has maintained a diverse sports journalism career for more than a decade, including with the Des Moines Register. A native of northwest Missouri, Danny earns his betting money as a professional musician.

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