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XFL action slow in Week 1

Feb 12, 2020 3:10 AM

One week after the NFL’s Super Bowl, the WWE’s XFL looked to give football fans an alternative to a five-month hangover with its brand that appears to be all-in with national sports gambling as a means to make the 2020 version more appealing the XFL’s version back in 2001.

At that time, the XFL welcomed gambling as well and even sent out press releases on key information to the books. But only Nevada was taking legal action. Last year, the AAF tried something with open arms to gambling, which included flying Las Vegas bookmakers to meet with the coaches. But the league soon ran out of money and went out of business before the season was over.

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Over the past weekend, the XFL debuted its eight teams with four games and one of the tests to show real popularity with the games is whether the audio was played throughout the sportsbooks.

“We had the XFL game games on TV, but put sound on the top college basketball games,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP of oddsmaking Jeff Sherman. “The XFL is still a minor league, but the quality of play is better than the AAF was last year because the rules are more conducive to scoring.”

Because of the uncertainty of the players and the style each team plays, limits were posted at the SuperBook at $1,000 on the side and $500 on the total and numbers were radically flying all over the place due to low limits and air moves to stay with whatever market there was. Bettors and oddsmakers were both waiting for more information on how the first weekend of games would unravel.

The next big test to see how popular the games were was how much was actually bet on each game. I asked Sherman about the volume for the games and if it was similar to a Pirates-Reds July baseball game.

“No, more like a July Tigers-Orioles game,” he said.

That type of volume should rise a bit as bettors get more acclimated, but there’s going to be an upcoming lull for the XFL that could doom it before it actually gains some momentum.

“I know the XFL wanted to keep the football roll going right after the Super Bowl, but March is going to be tough for them to stand out because of college basketball where their TV ratings are going severely drop,” Sherman said.

The average bettor is not likely to share their allotted March Madness bankroll with the XFL. If the XFL can survive that March lull and continue with fan support through April, maybe it has some staying power.

From what I heard, the production of the games, and some of the innovations were received very well. I’d like to see it create a niche audience and become an annual thing, but perhaps starting it in April may be better in the long term.

Circa Sports in CO

Circa Sports signed a 15-year deal with Century Casinos to be an internet sports betting operator in Colorado with an app that is expected to launch on May 1.

“We are excited to be at the forefront of sports betting in Colorado with our partners at Century Casinos,” said Derek Stevens, CEO of Circa Sports. “Colorado has proven to be an ideal place to mark the official expansion of Circa Sports outside of Nevada with its pro-growth regulatory environment. 

“Furthermore, the Colorado Division of Gaming has done an excellent job to ensure a seamless application and launch process.”

Good luck to the rest of the Colorado sportsbook competition, because the product Circa offers is quickly going to be the most attractive with their odds and the fact that bettors can remotely register for the app and also fund it, unlike Nevada where you have to do sign up and fund inside brick and mortar shops.

Word will spread fast with Colorado customers, as it has in Nevada, that if you care about value and are looking for the best future odds and don’t want to be tossed for winning with no monkey business, Circa is a must-shop.

Masters update

With the Masters only a month away, let’s take a look at what bettors are keying on early.

“We’ve had several guys fluctuating at the top,” Sherman said. “We just took a $3,000 wager on Dustin Johnson at 16-1 and dropped him to 14-1. Brooks Koepka at 10-1 hasn’t been attracting much nor has Jordan Spieth who we’ve pushed up from 20-1 up to 30-1. He just can’t find his stroke. He’s in poor form.”

One of the more popular bets has been Phil Mickelson, who has looked sharp recently finishing third in his last two tournaments.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of Mickelson action since doing well at Saudi Arabia where we lowered his odds from 100-1 and then after Pebble Beach we dropped him to 40-1,” Sherman said.

Tiger Woods is 10-1 to win a green jacket for the second straight year and his sixth overall.

MLB favorite

Team equipment trucks have unloaded at all the Arizona and Florida spring training facilities and pitchers and catchers are arriving daily while the Dodgers trade for Mookie Betts and David Price from the Red Sox became official after a week’s delay. 

Last week the SuperBook made some immediate changes to their future odds.

“We dropped the Dodgers from 9-2 down to 7-2, and also raised the season wins from 98.5 up to 101,” Sherman said.

Also, did the Astros cheating scandal just go away? No player punishment? No consequences? 

For a commissioner like Rob Manfred spending the last year touting integrity to extort fees from the growing legal sportsbook market, this looks really bad on so many levels.