Betting on the NFL Draft provides annual ‘terrible’ outcome for Las Vegas sportsbooks

LAS VEGAS — When the NFL draft landed in Las Vegas in 2022, Golden Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller wanted no part of it and punted.

Team owners, players and their families, agents and media flocked here, fueling rumors, fact and fiction that triggered roller-coaster odds moves.

“It’s dangerous,” Miller told me after that event. “I went to my bosses and said, ‘I’m not going to do it. That might upset a lot of people, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk of all the inside information I won’t be privy to.’

“They agreed with me. It turned out well.”

The bloodbath was more of a green river, from all the cash that left the sportsbooks’ coffers, flowing away from the Strip and every tributary connected to peripheral casinos.

I mentioned one particular book to Miller.

“It wasn’t just one,” he said. “So many others were just as bad. I’m glad I didn’t do it. There’s a lot of information floating around, and I just didn’t want to be a part of it and get caught with my pants down.”

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Vegas sportsbooks wary of hanging odds on ‘pre-determined’ NFL Draft

Nevada’s Gaming Control Board somehow approved NFL-draft betting in 2017. In general, it was believed to be a longshot since outcomes wouldn’t be decided in a contest on a playing field, for the world to witness.

Answers would be derived from subjective humans in backrooms and could’ve been settled for days, maybe weeks—months?—before the draft, and spread geometrically from those insiders to the outside world.

Widely considered a hit, having drawn 300,000 visitors, that Vegas draft served as a a springboard to the city getting the Super Bowl that was staged here Feb. 11. Kansas City beat San Francisco in overtime, 25-22, at Allegiant Stadium.

At the South Point and Rampart sportsbooks, director Chris Andrews and his team posted some odds for that ’22 draft. But they stopped the practice last year and will not furnish figures for the draft that starts Thursday in Detroit.

“I halted it because it isn’t a game,” Andrews texted me. “Too much is pre-determined.”

At the Westgate SuperBook, no event is lower in the eyes of executive vice president Jay Kornegay.

“It’s tough to book something that some already know what’s going to happen,” he wrote in a text. “So to limit losses, we post the day before.”

In Nevada, draft props must be removed by 5 p.m. Wednesday, 24 hours before the event. The SuperBook, therefore, will post its numbers Tuesday. Parameters differ in other states, but SuperBook patrons will have 24 hours to peruse the numbers.

Do not expect many offerings, either.

“The draft menu continues to shrink,” Kornegay wrote, “as we move on.”

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Some sportsbooks offering large NFL Draft betting markets

At the Boyd Gaming shop inside the Orleans, 17 draft props are available at kiosks and a manager behind the counter said the same offerings are accessible on its app.

DraftKings offers 11 subsets of NFL draft props, including Top 5 and Top 10 draftees, matchups, first non-quarterback selected and college props.

Total ACC players picked in the first round? At 4.5, UNDER was -300 (risk $300 to win $100) on Sunday, OVER +235. OVER 5.5 with the Big Ten, -125; UNDER-105. UNDER 7.5 from what used to be the Pac-12, -220; OVER +180.

In total, I counted no fewer than 69 offerings on the DK menu. Ironic, maybe, since Johnny Avello, its director of race and sports, and many employees are based in Las Vegas.

Yet, DK is not available in the Silver State. It is currently in 25 states.

There are about 80 offerings at BetMGM books in eight Strip properties.

“A pretty robust menu,” its director of trading Lamarr Mitchell said. “Lots of specialized markets. At this point, too many to list.”

For that ’22 draft, Caesars had 100-to-1 odds on LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. to be the third pick, by Houston, and the first cornerback selected in the draft, which—of course—happened.

BetMGM fielded $500 wagers at 18-1, and they kept coming in down to 12-1, on Stingley being the first cornerback picked in the draft.

Mitchell’s predecessor, Jeff Stoneback, said that single offering put the company “in the red.” He added that just breaking even on the event “has yet to happen.”

Vegas takes annual loss on NFL Draft 

Station Casinos books that surround the Vegas Valley provide odds on how many trades will involve a first-round pick and what position eight teams might draft with their first picks.

They are the popular franchises, from Dallas and Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and Green Bay.

Among its dozen other props, Stations sets odds on the position for Mr. Irrelevant, the last player taken in the draft; 5-2 for quarterback, 9-2 for defensive or offensive lineman, 17-2 for linebacker, etc.

“And who won Mr. Irrelevant just a few years ago?” Stations race and sports director Chuck Esposito told colleague Jason McCormick on the company’s “Book Ends” podcast.

“Brock Purdy,” McCormick said, of the San Francisco quarterback, before Esposito finished his sentence.

At another point during the podcast, Esposito said, “We don’t always do good on these props.”

The Circa Sports draft menu appears to be 83 deep. As a recent guest on Tim Murray’s Vegas Stats and Information Network show “PrimeTime,” Circa owner Derek Stevens lamented the draft.

Hopeful fans should be gung-ho about it, he said. However, as the owner of a business that takes an annual loss on it, Stevens despises it. He mentioned that a prop moving from -240 to +600 is typical for the draft.

“I’ve come to a point where the draft is the worst day of the year,” Stevens told Murray. “[We, the book] cannot win, no matter what [we] do. Everybody complains about this or that, and we get smoked.

“Terrible.”

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