Those familiar with the Las Vegas sports betting scene likely have heard the name Johnny Avello. His career includes spending 13 years as the sportsbook director at Wynn Las Vegas.

These days, he is still a person in the know when it comes to sports betting. It’s part of the turf of being the director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings.

Just two days away from Super Bowl 2019 between the Rams and Patriots, there is no slowing down, especially for DraftKings Sportsbook

NJ Gambling Sites caught up with Avello earlier this week to talk about the Big Game and the deals going on at DraftKings.

“The Super Bowl is a big weekend event,” Avello said. “The game takes place on Sunday, and guests start arriving on Friday.”

That means the new DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts in Atlantic City will be just as busy as the app.

But call it a busy weekend of wagering in general. The NJ sports betting card of Saturday alone includes NCAA college basketballNBANHL, and UFC action.

“It’s an extremely busy day for betting,” Avello said.

DraftKings gets creative with Super Bowl 2019

The experienced bettors may be taking the Patriots minus the 2.5 points. Others may be going with the more exotic prop bet action such as whether or not the opening kickoff will be returned for a touchdown.

But the DraftKings team is thinking about those daily fantasy sports and sportsbook customers who want to enjoy the 2019 Super Bowl betting action without having to worry about putting up the money.

This is where the free to play Big Game Squares contest comes into play.

Basically, you pick one of the 100 available squares before kickoff on Sunday, and if the numbers of your square match the score during one of the four payout periods, you’re a winner.

Besides being free, there is a $53,000 prize pool up for grabs.

For DraftKings, that innovation for the casual bettor is nearly constant, said Avello.

“We are constantly trying to come up with new ideas to give players a fair stake. It’s really about giving something back to the customers.”

Yes, the concept is popular for Super Bowl office pools and parties. But in the world of legal sports betting and sportsbooks, it’s something new.

“It’s never been offered by any sportsbook. This is the first of it’s kind being offered, and that’s what makes it unique.”

DraftKings + Big Game Hub

DraftKings is going all in for Super Bowl Sunday, and we are not just talking odds and betting options either.

The NJ sportsbook app currently includes a Big Game Hub, a promo ad that provides a direct link to the page.

This is where players can find the other free contest, Big Game Prop Pool. There is a $5,300 prize pool up for grabs here. Besides the coin toss result, game-winner and player props, players have to guess the color of the post-game Gatorade.

Will it be red, orange, yellow, or other? Those who correctly answer the most propositions (13 total) have a shot at the prize.

DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey and beyond

Avello and his team continue to be a huge part of the NJ sports betting success story dating back to the Aug. 6 launch of the mobile/online platform.

In fact, DraftKings is a huge part of why Resorts Digital (the internet gaming arm of the land-based casino) is No. 1 when it comes to NJ online sports betting revenue.

Then in late November, the permanent 5,000-square-foot DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts opened. The space is expected to draw its share of bettors this weekend for Super Bowl 53.

Combine the mobile and retail components together, and the formula seems to be working.

“We were the first (mobile app) to launch,” Avello said. “We offer a lot of content and different options. That’s why we’ve had that success.”

Oscars betting at DraftKings? You bet

Speaking of different content, DraftKings posted the betting odds for this year’s Academy Awards. Yes, betting on the Oscars in NJ is legal, at least for this year.

While Avello sees great returns coming from the NJ sports betting market, his turf is more on a national scale. DraftKings has retail sportsbooks in Mississippi and West Virginia, too.

As more and more states pass sports betting legislation, Avello will be keeping his eye out for expansion opportunities.

“We are continually looking for areas to expand our business,” he said. “Whoever is interested in us, we are interested in speaking to them.”

Bill Gelman

About

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.