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Wild Week of U.S. Sports Betting News Culminates with NFL Wild Card Weekend

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Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Las Vegas Raiders during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 15, 2022. (Photo by Andy Lyons, Getty Images via AFP)

The last seven days have provided its fair share of U.S. legal sports betting news. The fallout from New York’s online sports betting launch dominated headlines again, sportsbook profits from participating U.S. states continued to trickle in, Australian Open drama, and NFL Wild Card game action kept fans riveted. Let’s take a peek at some of the relevant topics that generated sports betting buzz this past week and some topics to keep an eye out for in the week ahead.

NFL Wild Card Weekend Aftermath

NFL Wild Card Weekend is in the rear-view mirror, and it hasn’t been a particularly successful one for American sportsbooks. There was only one upset over the weekend, with three of the five favorites easily covering the spread.

One of the biggest stories from the Wild Card Weekend was the poor officiating from Jerome Boger and his team in Saturday’s Bengals vs. Raiders game. Boger and his crew will not be officiating again throughout the NFL Playoffs, per Adam Schefter. The controversial play that led to a Bengals touchdown helped bettors cash in ATS as the Bengals covered in their first NFL Playoff game since 1991. They were also one of the most popular public sides bet on coming into the weekend, according to Covers.com.

Oddsmakers and prognosticators will have their hands full this week determining the lines for what is sure to be a blockbuster NFL Championship Round, which starts Saturday.

The Good and the Bad from New York's Mobile Sports Betting Launch

The much-anticipated launch of the New York mobile sports betting scene has come and gone with varying results. The good comes from the sheer volume of online wagering activity in the Empire State. The bad comes from a pair of U.S. legal sports betting heavyweights Caesars and FanDuel stumbling on their ability to deliver bonuses to new customers in the state. Caesars even experienced an outage during the Cowboys vs. Eagles game last week, which certainly wasn’t a good look for the company.

On Saturday and Sunday of last week, a staggering total of 17.2 million sports betting pings were reported in New York. Eight million pings alone from New York City's five boroughs represented a bigger total than any other standalone state total within the US, according to Lindsay Slader, Managing Director of Gaming at GeoComply.

BetMGM will officially be welcomed to the New York mobile sports betting family Monday, joining BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel. Bally Bet, PointsBet, WynnBET, and Resorts World have yet to get their acts together with little indication of when they will join the New York legal sports betting family.

December's Month-to-Month Sports Betting Dips

More evidence emerged last week about just how strong the U.S. legal sports betting market was during the 31-day October betting period when sportsbooks could take advantage of five full weekends of NFL and college football and the start of the NBA and NHL seasons. November and December were, by every measure, strong but not quite at the level of October.

  • West Virginia sportsbooks took in $74.51 million in December, representing a 10.3% slide from November's take.
  • Iowa's sports betting handle came in at $255.5 million in December, down 7.2% from the $287.2 million in November.
  • Indiana saw $462.7 million in sports wagers in December, representing a 0.1% dip from the record $463 million handle from November.
  • Delaware saw an 18.8% drop in overall legal sports betting activity - from $15.6 million in November to $12.6 million in December.

These four states indicate what we can expect from jurisdictional heavyweights every month. All indications are that December will fall short of records for the majority of participating states – those numbers should be released in the next couple of weeks.

Oregon Moves Away from Lottery Model with DraftKings Partnership

In a move that will surely increase the so-far disappointing betting totals in the state of Oregon, DraftKings has stepped in to take over from the state Lottery, whose business model has dragged the platform down.

Oregon joins New Hampshire as a state to bring on DraftKings as a successor to their state Lottery. New Hampshire has seen a spike in wagering since their Lottery took a backseat to heavyweight sports betting provider, DraftKings.

“We’re excited about the improved experience for our players – including the ability to make same game parlay bets. DraftKings is a premier provider in the U.S.,” said Barry Pack, Oregon Lottery director, in a media release. “We see benefits for Lottery too, as the shift to DraftKings means fewer third-party service providers and a simpler financial structure for player accounts.”

It begs the question - will other jurisdictions with state Lotteries running their sports betting switch from Lottery models to more competitive and free markets? Washington D.C. and their disappointing Gamebet D.C. could be on notice.

Novak Djokovic's COVID Status for the Australian Open

COVID-19 continued to affect the U.S. legal sports betting scene last week adversely. But perhaps the most important sports/COVID story was that of Novak Djokovic, whose COVID situation continues to confound tennis fans, Australian Open organizers, and oddsmakers who have been forced to alter their prognostication several times the last couple of weeks.

With defending Champ Djokovic officially banned from Australia, the bracket for the men’s side is wide-open. Make sure to follow our Australian Open tennis coverage for picks and news updates.

Sports Betting News to Watch This Week

More State Sports Betting Handles Expected This Week

Some major U.S. legal sports betting jurisdictions are expected to announce just how their wagering scenes did during December. Pennsylvania and New Jersey are expected to release their figures this week.

Each will give us a further glimpse into where December will rank in terms of the national handle. Despite the dips already reported, last month is still expected to come in as one of the top-three legal sports betting months ever recorded in the U.S.

Along with state revenue reports and the rollout of BetMGM in New York, sports bettors will have plenty of live-action to look forward to in the coming week. Full slates of NBA, college basketball, and NHL betting action will join Australian Open tennis, and NFL Championship Round battles Saturday and Sunday.

UFC 270 from Honda Center in Anaheim, California, also goes down this weekend and features a Heavyweight Title fight between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane, along with a Flyweight Title Bout between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo.

Make sure to keep an eye on our Live Odds page throughout the week to get the best lines possible and connect with others in the SBR community on our popular sports betting forum.