XFL Off To Promising Start
The XFL’s 10-week regular season kicked off on Saturday Feb. 8 and the upstart football league’s betting-friendly approach is already paying off with fans and sportsbooks alike.
Billing itself as a safer and faster version of NFL, the XFL has decided to go all-in on gambling from the opening kickoff in the hope of filling the post-Super Bowl gambling void for football fans.
Not only has it signed up multiple betting partners, launched a new free-play (PlayXFL), it is also taking integrity issues seriously by hiring sports data company Genius Sports to monitor betting activity on games and warn of any suspicious betting activity.
“Sports betting is growing rapidly in the U.S. and we are gearing up to be a good citizen and thoughtful participant in the marketplace,” Jeffrey Pollack, the XFL’s president and chief operating officer, said in a press release. “Our alliance with Genius Sports is an important first step and foundational element.”
What’s the XFL about?
Vince McMahon, the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, has pumped millions of his own personal fortune into what is an eight-team league playing out a regular season, followed by playoffs and a championship game scheduled for Sunday April 26.
McMahon originally attempted to launch the XFL back in 2001 but it’s wrestling-inspired features and gimmicks never took off with fans and it was pulled after a single season, resulting in a $35 million loss.
The latest incarnation is much more about football (thankfully), although it still differs from the NFL in several ways, including the option to seek 1, 2 or 3 points from the 2, 5 or 10-yard line after a touchdown is scored.
The XFL will also allow a team to throw two forward passes on the same play as long as both happen behind the line of scrimmage. Check out the official site for a full list of rules.
The upstart league has franchises in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington. In the opening game, the DC Defenders, who were heavily favored at Audi Field, bested the Seattle Dragons 31-19.
They call us the Defenders for a reason, people.
— DC Defenders (@XFLDefenders) February 9, 2020
Typically, there will be two games every Saturday and Sunday up until Week 10, when there will be three nights of football, with the Los Angeles Wildcats and Dallas Renegades playing on Thursday, April 9.
FOX Bet joins the show
Last month, the league announced a partnership with DraftKings, making that company both an authorized sports betting partner and a daily fantasy sports (DFS) provider, while FanDuel announced a DFS deal with the XFL earlier this month.
Earlier this week, the XFL named FOX Bet as their latest authorized betting partner. Fox Sports, the parent company of the betting outfit, operates FOX Bet-branded sportsbooks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, two of the largest sports betting states in the U.S.
As part of the agreement, FOX Bet has the right to use the XFL’s official data feed, league marks, team logos, player and coach likenesses, and certain league content across its FOX Bet sports betting app and FOX Sports Super 6 free-to-play game, the companies said in a joint statement.
What is the Super 6?
Super 6 is a predictive game offered on the Fox Sports mobile app and was launched at the start of the 2019 college and NFL seasons. The contest requires participants to not only correctly pick the winners of select XFL games but also the margin of victory: one to five points, six to 10, 11 to 15, 16 to 20, or 21 points or more.
XFL opening weekend creates strong betting interest
While the XFL is not expected to generate the same level of bets the NFL does, it has got off to a promising start with sportsbooks in several states where XFL betting is legal (nine currently) reporting a solid opening weekend.
In New Jersey, FanDuel reported that “20 times“ more money was bet on the opener than they took on the first game of the now defunct Alliance of American Football League (AAF), with betting increasing by 55% from Saturday to Sunday.
According to DraftKings, the XFL’s Saturday games generated more than 1.4 times the handle of the 2019 NFL Hall of Fame game, and roughly 10% of the handle of the NFL’s regular-season opener between the Packers and Bears.
Meanwhile, NJ sports betting operator Pointsbet said it handled more action on Week 1 of the XFL than it did for the entire AAF season.
Less than $10,000 was wagered on the point spread for the game between the Dragons and Defenders at Caesars Sportsbook in Nevada. However, that was still more money than what was put down on the majority of Saturday’s college basketball games.
Betting lines on TV
In addition to securing betting deals with the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel and Fox Bet, the XFL is breaking new ground in the US sports world by incorporating betting odds both on-screen and via the play-by-play commentary.
Both major TV partners, ABC/ESPN and Fox, had the point spreads and over/unders displayed alongside the scores during broadcasts, while announcers openly discussed the betting ramifications. The social media engagement also appeared to be high.
All of this was of course the goal of the XFL from the get-go.
“We are embracing the spread from the start,” said Jeffrey Pollack. “This is a core business strategy for the XFL. We understand that for a lot of our fans, betting on the games has become as essential to the game experience as the helmet, ball and jerseys. That’s what we’re gearing up to provide. Our mission and our infrastructure are geared to the sports-betting future that is coming fast. There are incredible opportunities.”
Can XFL keep the excitement going into Week 2? Don’t bet against it.
Come and follow us over on Twitter @Gamble_usa for more legal sports betting news across the US.
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