Will it be Travon Walker? Aidan Hutchinson? Kayvon Thibodeaux? Whoever your gut tells you is probably a safe bet – well, safer than most bets, anyway.
International sportsbooks have allowed draft betting for years, and with the astronomical rise of legalized sports betting and the impossible ease with which anyone can place a bet these days, major American sportsbooks don’t have much choice when it comes to putting up a range of betting opportunities, on your favorites to play tips with the numbers 1 to 262.
But here’s the problem: The loses sports betting. And lose and lose and lose. ESPN reported that bettors have long since hit the books on the draft a decade, including the last five years it was legal in the United States.
Sportsbooks want to please their customers and, to be honest, get them addicted to their service, that’s why they’ve opened draft betting in several states in the last five years. But there is no classified information they are privy to, no data they use that is not available to the public. It’s a betting game.
“We’re looking at the same things as everyone else,” said Adam Pullen, deputy commercial director at Caesar’s Sportsbook. “We look at mock drafts, the experts, and use them as a guide. We have some people that we trust more than others, so we just need to know which ones to use and respect.”
Even those who are not “in the know” can be pretty knowledgeable – at least to the same extent as the odds makers.
And unlike the outcome of a game, some people know the outcome is wagered before it’s officially announced. While it’s against NFL policy to make a bet based on this inside information, that doesn’t always stop people from telling a safe bet to a friend or two to make a little extra on the side — agent Leigh Steinberg, though it deadspin said this is not a general phenomenon.
“We’re all bound by a certain ethic about using inside information,” said Steinberg, who has represented 64 first-round draft picks over his career. “A lot of people claim to have inside information, but that’s usually based on educated speculation.”
The draft betting scene poses a tremendous challenge for sportsbooks to regulate, and while certain states have imposed restrictions on when bettors can play on the draft, as well as monetary limits, they are not necessarily 100% effective in limiting the spread of inside information .
“Nevada has the time constraint [where the books close 24 hours before the draft starts]and West Virginia reinstated it for the draft yesterday,” Pullman told Peppystores. “Betting on the draft as it approaches – that’s not a certainty, but it’s almost a foregone conclusion.”
So in summary: No one knows, except the people who know. Which is a bad combination for the sportsbooks that fall into the former group there. It’s not a game where anything could happen, where no one in the world can really know the outcome (unless you’re a fan of NFL tanking) – it’s cold, hard info.
The sports bets Movement Lines as prominent talking heads publicly encourage betting. In a case like Trevor Lawrence or Joe Burrow, it’s not even worth a bet given the odds are so high – everyone knows who will be number one these years since teams don’t exactly make decisions like this a secret.
But in a year like this, your guess is as good as mine, which is as good as who makes the lines at the big sportsbooks. Financially, they shouldn’t open their books for this event. But they do.
“It’s basically a marketing or promotional event,” Pullman said of opening the books for draft betting. “We want to make the customers happy. The public will win some money and we hope they reinvest that into the NBA Finals or other events.”