The good news is, so far, gambling regulators in nine states have approved betting on XFL games. Likewise, the sports networks are now players in the game.
ESPN and ABC Sports Emerge as Major Players
ESPN and ABC Sports will continually broadcast the XFL game point spread as well as the under/over on total points scored in the game on their Chiron graphics. Fox Sports will show these lines during lead-ins and outros after the team’s score. Announcers will also talk about how each particular play may affect the point spread or the over/under.
Both ESPN and ABC Sports will feature the lines on the “score bug” on the Chiron at the bottom of the screen. However, Fox Sports spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi indicated that the lines won’t be as prominent on Fox broadcasts. However, they will be displayed during the lead-ins and outros after each team scores.
Also, announcers will be free to talk about gambling, which is currently not allowed on NFL broadcasts. “We are not forcing the issue, though,” Fegyveresi said. “If our announcers feel comfortable and want to discuss it, they can. That way, it will be more organic.” The XFL games start Saturday, when the DC Defenders host the Seattle Dragons.
“Late in the game, will we mention it if Houston is up by 3 points and they kick a field goal, would that cover the point spread? Yes, I think ESPN will do that,” commented Lee Fitting, ESPN’s senior vice president of production. “The thing is, you want to take point spreads and gambling into account while ensuring you don’t turn off the fans who don’t know the lingo and don’t gamble. It’s a fine line. The network won’t update the odds or betting totals as the games proceed, but ESPN may consider that later in the season. It all depends on how things go.”
“We are bringing an innovative spirit to our games as well as the fan experience. Our TV partners share this spirit,” XFL president and COO Jeffrey Pollack stated. “The XFL wants the same things our fans want, and many of our fans like legal wagers on football. Integrating the betting lines and point spreads into our broadcasts creates a more beefy TV experience that deepens our fan’s connection and engagement.”
Pollack said about sports betting, “We’re embracing the spread from the very beginning, This is one of the core business strategies for the XFL. We know that for many of our fans, betting on the games is as essential to the game experience as the ball, helmet, and jerseys. We’re geared up to provide that. Our mission and our infrastructure are aligned with the future of sports betting that’s coming fast. There are many fantastic opportunities.”
The XFL Achieves Approval in at Least Nine States
As it stands, gambling regulators in at least nine states have currently approved betting on XFL games. These states include Nevada, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island Iowa, Indiana, and West Virginia. The league is owned by WWF entrepreneur Vince McMahon.
Recently, the XFL brought its Los Angeles team, the Wildcats, to Las Vegas for a mini-camp so that gambling executives could become familiar with the teams and the league. The XFL and its products differ in many ways from the NFL. For example, XFL rules include the option for the teams to seek 1, 2 or 3 points from the 2-, 5- or 10-yard line after scoring a touchdown. Furthermore, the XFL allows teams to throw two forward passes on the same play, as long as both occur behind the line of scrimmage.
President of interactive gaming for MGM Resorts International, Scott Butera, is also a former commissioner of the Arena Football League. Butera noted that the MGM knows enough about the XFL to offer betting on its games in New Jersey, Nevada, and West Virginia. Butera had meetings with the league’s commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck.
“We are familiar with the XFL, we know Vince McMahon well and know he’s a real leader in sports entertainment,” Butera noted. “They were ready to incorporate sports betting into their rules. It ought to be a high-scoring league, with some props.”
Like most professional sports leagues, the XFL is making deals with third parties not only to monetize sports wagers, but also to ensure the integrity of betting on XFL games. The XFL has already made a deal with Genius Sports for betting integrity monitoring and with Champion Sports Data to compile and disseminate official league data. The league also announced a deal to make DraftKings an authorized gambling operator and the league’s daily fantasy sports partner.
The XFL also has plans to get its fans used to betting on the games even in states where real-money gambling is not yet legal. The league plans to do this by offering free-to-play contests through a mobile app in all 50 states.
The XFL’s eight teams will play its championship game in April. The league currently has franchises in Houston, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Washington.