NFL Draft Betting Draws Record Handle for Las Vegas Sportsbooks

  • William Hill offered 104 different prop bets, handle was five times greater than usual
  • The record handle was equivalent to a ‘Thursday Night Football’ game for William Hill
  • Three-day 2020 NFL Draft attracted a record audience of more than 55 million viewers
official ball of the NFL
Betting on the 2020 NFL Draft exploded at Las Vegas sportsbooks in only the fourth year that they offered odds on the annual event. [Image:]

More markets than ever before

Sportsbooks in Las Vegas saw an exponential increase in the amount of money bet on the 2020 NFL Draft in comparison to previous years. The 85th NFL Draft represented the fourth year that the state’s sportsbooks could offer betting markets on the event, and the handle was larger than ever.

With sportsbooks offering a wider range of markets than ever before, they catered to the lack of sports betting opportunities currently on the market.

William Hill offered 104 different prop bets on the 2020 NFL Draft

For example, William Hill offered 104 different prop bets on the 2020 NFL Draft. This was 10 times more than the number of such markets it offered back in 2017. The sports betting giant’s record handle for draft betting was also shattered this year.

Record handle confirmed

According to Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill’s sportsbook director, the handle was five times greater than previous years. He equated the intake to being similar to what it would be for a ‘Thursday Night Football’ fixture. While the pandemic certainly aided this increase, Bogdanovich believes the handle for the 2021 NFL Draft will be the same or greater than this year.

Chris Bennett, sportsbook manager for Circa Sports, likened the intake to that of a popular regular-season game. 

One of the more notable winning bets on the draft at William Hill saw a bettor win $5,000 from a $250 bet. The bettor successfully predicted that Tee Higgins would be the first player drafted on the second day of the draft at odds of 20/1. 

Set all-time viewership records

The 2020 NFL Draft took place over three days (April 23-25) and was broadcast to more than 55 million people. The average audience over the weekend was 8.4 million viewers, an increase of 35% over last year’s draft.

New viewership records were set each day, helping the ‘NFL Draft-A-Thon LIVE’ initiative to raise over $100m for COVID-19 relief efforts.

The 2020 NFL Draft was due to take place in Las Vegas. A stage was to be built in the middle of the famous Bellagio fountains. However, the city has been on lockdown since mid-March, with no end in sight. As a result, the draft took place virtually from an ESPN studio in Bristol, Connecticut.

The 2021 NFL Draft will take in Cleveland, Ohio. It will return to Las Vegas in 2022.

Impact of the coronavirus pandemic

For the past six weeks or so, most sporting events across the world have been canceled or postponed. This has led to sports bettors turning to all sorts of niche betting markets to fill the void.

One of the most popular niche sports to date has been table tennis betting. There has also been a transition over to online casino and poker games. Sportsbooks were eying up the NFL Draft as a good opportunity to bring in some revenue.

With UFC 249 set to take place on May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida, this will be another major event for sportsbooks. The Westgate Sportsbook in Las Vegas is planning to reopen its mobile betting app on May 7 to capitalize on this event taking place.

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