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NFL Draft Like ‘Sunday Night Football Game’ For DraftKings

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 4 mins

NFL Draft Like ‘Sunday Night Football Game’ For DraftKings

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The NFL Draft was the first major live betting opportunity for the American sports fan since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down college and pro sports in March.

And the draft proved to be a big win for legal sportsbooks, at least in terms of interest among bettors.

"We actually booked more bets on the draft than a typical average Sunday night football game during the NFL season. I think that tells you there’s a lot of pent up demand for sports,” DraftKings CEO and co-founder Jason Robins told Fox Business Network host Neil Cavuto on Friday. “People are bored at home. They’re hungry for traditional sports. The NFL draft is a big event for us every year. This year, it actually blew our expectations out of the water. It was huge.”

The first round of the NFL Draft took place virtually Thursday night and aired on ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network. The Cincinnati Bengals chose LSU QB Joe Burrow with No. 1 overall pick at a consensus price of +10000. That means a $100 bet earned one dime for all the dimes Burrow threw for the 15-0 NCAA champion Tigers last season. The draft continues Friday night and concludes on Saturday.

The NFL announced Friday that Thursday night's first round had record TV ratings with an average audience of 15.6 million viewers. The previous high was 12.4 million viewers in 2014.

At PlaySugarHouse.com in New Jersey, the handle and bet counts are already triple last year's numbers for the entire draft after just the first round, according to a news release.

A total of 76% of all sports betting handle Thursday at PlaySugarHouse.com was bet on the NFL, mainly on the draft with some futures and prop action.

Wideouts, QB Prove Popular With Bettors

The most popular overall bet and the largest single bet of the day at PlaySugarHouse was on CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma being the first wide receiver chosen overall. Lamb ended up being the third wide receiver chosen, falling behind Alabama wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy. One better wagered nearly $5000 on Lamb to go first at his position and was fed to the wolves. Ruggs was taken as the 12th overall pick by the Las Vegas Raiders and was a first-round surprise. Jeudy was selected 15th, by the Denver Broncos, and Lamb was taken 17th, by the Dallas Cowboys.

Ruggs was the fastest timed runner at the NFL Combine and was +400 to be the first receiver taken. The trifecta of Ruggs, Jeudy and Lamb to be chosen in that order paid +650 to lucky bettors.

There was “a lot of betting on quarterbacks, a lot which quarterbacks will be taken and at what point in time. Everybody of course bet on Joe Burrow to go first. A lot of people won money on that,” DraftKing's Robins said.

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Among the random prop bets taken by DraftKings was a 500-1 wager on the San Francisco 49ers to draft Chase Young. The Ohio State DE was chosen second overall by the Washington Redskins. The 49ers traded with Tampa Bay to move back to the No. 14 spot and selected South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw.

Futures Odds For Joe Burrow

Burrow’s 2020 NFL futures odds were posted on DraftKings on Friday. The total on his projected number of TD passes with the Bengals is 21.5 and passing yards is 3,850.5. He is +200 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and +15000 to become league MVP in his first season.

DraftKings also began trading under the ticker symbol “DKNG” Friday on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, a day after completing its $3.3 billion merger with SBTech and Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp. The company received a positive reaction in Friday trading while the overall markets were up in afternoon trading.

The DraftKings merger tied the U.S. company known for its daily fantasy sports and mobile sports betting platforms with the Bulgarian sports betting technology provider. The new DraftKings retains its headquarters in Boston.

About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.