Football fans who look forward every year to what players their favorite team selects at the NFL draft can now bet on the outcome in Nevada. But some sports books in Las Vegas expect the new wagering to draw little more attention than Mr. Irrelevant, the last player picked every year.
Nevada gambling regulators have approved for the first time a series of proposition bets – unique wagers offered on specific outcomes – on the draft, which will take place at the end of the month. At least one sports book began taking bets over the weekend, but others have decided to skip the option or take time to ponder it.
The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook may post a handful of the 17 approved bets, but only after conducting more research, including into teams and players. Its oddsmaker, Jay Kornegay, said nothing is more frustrating for a sports book than to spend several hours of work to only get “grocery dollars” on some bets.
“It’s virtually impossible to know everything that might be going on in the world of the NFL draft,” he said. “If a trade happens, it can happen at any time, which could change the entire draft. It could have a rippling effect. All the moves that could possibly happen are not restricted to: ‘It starts at noon Pacific time’ (like a game.)”
The sports book at the Wynn Las Vegas won’t take any bets on the draft.
Football enthusiasts won’t get to bet on which player will be the No. 1 pick. The offerings are broader and include the number of players drafted from a particular college in the first round and in the entire draft, as well as the conference that will have the most players drafted. The sports books must stop accepting wagers by close of business April 26, the day before the draft begins in Philadelphia.
William Hill, which runs more than 100 sports books in Nevada, is taking money on 10 of the proposition bets. Not counting kickers, punters or long-snappers, defensive players are 5.5-point favorites over offensive players to be selected in the first round. Also during that round, SEC players are 5.5-point favorites over PAC-12 players and 4.5 over Big Ten players.
“A lot of people love the draft,” said Nick Bogdanovich, the head oddsmaker for William Hill, which had taken 14 bets on the draft as of Friday morning. “Obviously, we are trying to write as much business as humanly possible.”
The popularity of bets on events other than horse race, greyhound race or athletic event took off in Nevada on 2011, when the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved a series of wagers on the World Series of Poker. Regulators since then have approved betting on Heisman Trophy winners, e-sports events and a handicapping championship, among others. During the Super Bowl,
“I think the sportsbooks are seeing a market for this proposition wagers, and why not offer them if they can them approved,” said Jennifer Roberts, associate director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Center for Gaming Regulation. “… I think with the more publicity around it, you may see increased action like any rollout of something new.”