The XFL passed muster in Week 1 with DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks, which became partners with the re-branded February-April league in the final days before kickoff.
Betting handle exceeded some NFL exhibition games and substantially out-performed the Alliance of American Football league, which occupied this space last year and folded before the season ended.
The Week 2 XFL slate is important for the league and a point of interest for the New Jersey sportsbooks that saw initial promise last week. There are four more games, two apiece on Saturday and Sunday, to test the wagering waters.
Can New Jersey sports betting fans advance beyond curiosity into the heavy-handicapping and betting stage?
That’s an interesting issue for DraftKings and FanDuel, whose officials shared their vantage point with NJGamblingSites.com this week.
Although they have teamed up with the XFL, the books aren’t on the hook like the league. If the XFL sputters, the books can offer other products to bettors.
But books can ride the wave of old and new business if the league can maintain the 3 million to 4 million television viewers for the DC Defenders–Seattle Dragons league opener last Saturday.
Networks did their part by integrating sports betting into their presentation and by displaying odds and over/unders on the screen. The XFL is being given every chance.
DraftKings plans to add more XFL betting options
Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings Sportsbook, believes the XFL scored in its debut with gamblers.
“Our betting lines and offerings were respectable, and we’ll continue to add more content,” Avello said.
“The bettors appeared to have initially embraced the XFL. I believe a new football league was intriguing to some and with all the games being on national TV, some NFL bettors dove in.”
Avello maintained that oddsmakers and bettors need to become more comfortable with the product, and the rest will take care of itself. He said that sides (point spreads wagering) were the most popular bet last week, followed by totals and the moneyline.
The game totals indicated the tricky nature of line-setting for a new league.
Books nailed it sharply in the first two games, with the 50.5 and 51 over/under numbers coming into play.
DC’s 31-19 win over Seattle landed right near the number, while Houston’s 37-17 triumph over Los Angeles was close to the total.
On Sunday, New Yorks’ 23-3 triumph over Tampa Bay and St. Louis’ 15-9 win over Dallas was way under the totals, also in the 50 range.
New league rules for points-after-touchdown (one, two or three points) are not easy to handicap into the equation. On the flip side, these rules push many games off the dreaded three and seven “push” numbers, which curtail betting.
The early season mystery of every team’s strength is a break for bettors who have a hunch because books and gamblers still trying to determine true odds.
Neither side knows more, although the advantage will shift to the books over the course of the year.
“I heard the bettors enjoyed it much more than the Alliance American Football League,” Avello noted, regarding betting action that, across all major sportsbooks, dwarfed the AAF.
“They [bettors] liked the new scoring rules but were still trying to figure out the key numbers on the totals.”
Here is the order in which teams generated betting action at DraftKings Sportsbook.
- New York Guardians
- Dallas Renegades
- Tampa Bay Vipers
- DC Defenders
- St. Louis BattleHawks
- Houston Roughnecks
- Los Angeles Wildcats
- Seattle Dragons
The totals indicate the largest market receiving the biggest play. The Guardians play in MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Jets and New York Giants of the NFL.
The betting market is aided by a swarm of New York sports betting customers who cross the border into the Garden State to wager. Some arrive on bicycles, make a New Jersey pit stop, place bets and cross back into New York.
FanDuel XFL betting picked up steam in Week 1
FanDuel Sportsbook reported a market factor emerging throughout the first XFL weekend. As people realized the product existed, they began betting.
FanDuel saw momentum build as the weekend progressed.
Officials told NJGamblingSites.com that they saw a 55% increase in handle from Saturday to Sunday and a bet count increase of 31% over the two days.
The most handle overall came in on the two Sunday games, followed by the early Saturday game involving Seattle at DC and Los Angeles at Houston for the second Saturday event.
St. Louis at Dallas, the final game of the weekend, delivered the most actual bets. Tampa Bay-NY was second, and the Saturday games were third and fourth. This underscores the assessment of momentum building over two days.
XFL 2020 Week 2: The real test
This week, the league sneaks up on fewer people. There is no doubt that major marketing and promotional efforts can drive this league downfield throughout the winter.
The question is: how far?
Will bettors latch on to the fact the league has two matchups of 1-0 teams this week, as New York visits DC and St. Louis invades Houston?
Do they have an angle on the Houston -8 line at DraftKings being the largest spread on the board?
Will they be aware that the preseason champion favorite Dallas Renegades get quarterback Landry Jones into the lineup when they visit the Los Angeles Wildcats?
And will they shake their heads at the Renegades giving 4.5 points on the road? They may have to account for possible disarray in Los Angeles, which fired defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson on Monday.
Will the gamblers rationalize that Tampa Bay versus Seattle showcases two teams who fumbled away sure points in losses last week? That assertion would lead to a bet expecting an offensive game.
For the XFL to thrive, many of those answers must be “yes.” Week 2 will reveal a lot.