- Las Vegas sportsbooks are reporting losses in NFL Draft betting markets for the sixth straight year.
- Books have been killed by ‘sharps’ on an annual basis since NFL Draft betting began in 2017.
- Nevada’s regulations require sportsbooks to stop taking action on the NFL Draft 24 hours before the start of the event–thus significantly reducing chances for late ‘public’ money.
The NFL Draft in Las Vegas brought tens of thousands of fans to town to watch their teams select the next generation of superstars (hopefully). It also brought yet another year of losses for Southern Nevada bookmakers who have been fleeced by ‘sharps’ on an annual basis since betting on the draft began in 2017. 2017 was the first year that betting on the NFL Draft was authorized by Nevada’s gaming regulators though it has been popular at sportsbook around the world for years.
In many ways, the regulatory framework for NFL Draft betting hurts the sportsbooks just as much as ‘wise guy’ action. For a high profile mainstream sporting event, ‘Bookmaking 101’ dictates that the ‘sharps’ will bet early while the ‘squares’ will wait until just before gametime. That isn’t possible in Nevada–since the NFL Draft markets close 24 hours before the event begins, the ‘squares’ are locked out of late betting. Having tens of thousands of tourists from all over the US who might be unaware of Nevada’s regulations relative to the NFL Draft further exacerbates the problem. There’s no way of accurately calculating the lost betting volume from tourists that hoped to ‘get down’ right before the draft but couldn’t. Hosting a big event in Las Vegas and not modifying gaming regulations so that sportsbooks can fully leverage it is downright silly.
The arbitrary limitation in bet types available for sportsbooks doesn’t help either. Here’s a recap of some of the stipulations the Nevada Gaming Control Board included when they started to permit NFL Draft betting:
Bettors won’t be able to wager on which player will be the No. 1 overall pick. But they’ll be able to wager on the total number of quarterbacks drafted in the first round, whether there will be more offensive players than defensive players drafted in the first round, and the over/under of the draft position for the first kicker taken, to name a few.
Other approved props include the total number of players drafted from a particular college or conference for the first round and for the entire draft.
The OV/UN pick props are popular everywhere, but if they’re packaging a betting event for ‘public’ consumption they need to give bookmakers more to work with. Why not just a simple ‘Yes/No’ prop for the top overall draft pick? Sportsbooks are allowed to offer a bet that is functionally the same thing (yesterday it was ‘Travon Walker Draft Position Under 1.5’) but one that lacks clarity for a public audience that might not be experienced at sports betting. You’re not going to fool the ‘sharps’ with the way you’ve got a proposition worded, so why not offer more clarity for the ‘squares’?
If you look at how other sportsbooks take action on the NFL Draft, the Nevada issues are apparent. Here’s a couple of props available right now at a well known offshore store. The first one is a popular prop not available in Nevada–the book throws out a group of players and the bettor picks which one will go the highest:
1ST RUNNING BACK SELECTED
Breece Hall -350 Kenneth Walker III +260 James Cook +600 Isaiah Spiller +1600
One goal is to give fans of a player’s college team to give him as many opportunities to bet on him as possible. Eliminating wagers of this type takes a valuable tool out of the oddsmaker’s ‘toolbox’. The next prop is arguably the simplest to do for the NFL Draft–and as noted with Travon Walker above is not permitted in Nevada. There are ten betting interests listed for this prop, we’ll just give you the first four:
33RD PICK OVERALL
Logan Hall -160 Perrion Winfrey +700 Nakobe Dean +700 Malik Willis +850
Pretty simple? Definitely more attractive to a neophyte bettor than listing ten individual players O/U position 32.5. Plus, it’s easier to build a ‘house edge’ into a futures market like this. Another fun prop, and one not permitted in Nevada due to the 24 hour cutoff time.
NEXT WIDE RECEIVER PICKED
George Pickens +130 Christian Watson +155 Skyy Moore +215 John Metchie +800
Bookmakers are right about one thing–it isn’t easy making odds on ‘information’ based events. It’s even more difficult if the options for bet types you’re working with are limited. Given the structure of the Nevada regulations, why *wouldn’t* they get hammered by ‘sharps’ every year? The ‘public’ is largely shut out of betting on the event.
This is a huge missed opportunity. Tens of thousands of not too savvy potential bettors in town and they can’t bet on the day of the draft. Just think of the possibilities were sportsbooks allowed to make the NFL Draft a more ‘interactive’ product. Live betting on the NFL Draft is one obvious thing that comes to mind. At the very least, allow sportsbooks to take action up until post time and write props with clarity in mind, not regulatory minutia. This is precisely why sportsbooks make money on the Super Bowl every year–they get a big audience of recreational players confronted with an expansive betting board. There’s countless live betting opportunities available–and we’re well past the point where only ‘sharps’ are involved in live betting.
The problem isn’t so much that the books in Nevada are getting pounded by the sharps on every NFL Draft–the problem is that the event needs to be shaped in such a way that it becomes attractive for recreational players. Get rid of the regulatory barriers, use the Super Bowl as a template for NFL Draft betting and do everything possible to get the mainstream media to plug NFL Draft betting as a ‘thing to do’. It would take no time at all for sportsbooks to turn a profit annually if they start to leverage the draft as an opportunity to bring in public money and not just one where they’re taking a ‘defensive position’ to minimize their losses to the ‘wise guys’.