Sportsbooks Expecting Record Bets on 2020 NFL Draft

  • The 2020 NFL Draft will take place virtually between April 23 and April 25
  • Record bets expected due to most sporting events being postponed because of COVID-19
  • FOX Bet predicts that as much as $20m could be wagered on the draft at US sportsbooks
  • The usual handle for the annual NFL draft is about $1m
rows of american football balls in NFL Experience in Times Square
Betting experts have predicted that sportsbooks will take a record number of bets on the 2020 NFL Draft, with $20m expected to be wagered on the annual event. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Experts predict $20m to be wagered

With major sporting events across the world being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, sports betting experts are expecting record bets on the 2020 NFL Draft.

The 85th NFL draft is taking place April 23-25 in ESPN’s studio in Bristol, Connecticut. Due to the pandemic, this will be a virtual draft with nobody attending in person. Online sportsbooks across the United States have already accepted more bets for this year’s draft than in previous years.

85th NFL draft is taking place April 23-25 in ESPN’s studio in Bristol, Connecticut

Some of these sportsbooks estimate that $5m will be wagered on the event. However, FOX Bet believes the total will be much higher, expecting the handle for the event to be around $20m. In comparison, the usual handle is around $1m, 20 times less than the figure expected for this year’s draft.

William Hill expects to double up

William Hill US CEO Joe Asher spoke about this opportunity. He said: “The draft is a time of renewal, and I think people are looking forward to a bit of fun after all of the tough news we’ve had recently.” 

While Asher noted that in the grand scheme of things NFL draft betting is a small matter, it still is a positive. Asher’s company expects to accept double the usual number of bets it usually does on this year’s draft.

As retail sportsbooks remain closed, they will miss out on the action unless they have a licensed online sportsbook. 

Most popular markets

According to Rush Street Interactive COO Mattias Stetz, the majority of bets the company accepts on the draft will come in on day one. He said that the sportsbooks experienced a similar volume of bets for last year’s draft as it would receive for a regular season NFL game. 

One of the most popular markets so far is where Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will end up, and whether he will be selected in the first five picks. Bettors have also been predicting the first three draft picks. The prospects leading this market are LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, Ohio State’s Chase Young, and Young’s college teammate Jeffrey Okudah.

Gambling and the NFL

For many years, the NFL was fighting the ending of the federal ban on sports betting in the United States along with the other major sports leagues. However, since the ban came to an end following a Supreme Court vote in May 2018, the league has been embracing the sector. 

The NFL now allows teams to have casino sponsors and the league now has its own fantasy sports and casino partners. This has led to sponsorship revenue for the NFL and its 32 franchises soaring to $1.47bn for the 2019/2020 season. Data deals are in place with the likes of Sportradar so live data feeds of NFL games can be licensed to sportsbooks across the world.  

Las Vegas was set to host this year’s NFL Draft. The stage was to be in the middle of the fountain in front of the world-famous Bellagio Casino & Hotel. Naturally, this spectacle was canceled as the country went into lockdown mode.