Fear, not Football Fanatics, your pigskin addiction doesn't have to stop once the Super Bowl concludes. The second coming of the XFL launches the weekend following the Super Bowl with major TV networks and sportsbooks already on board to enhance the viewing and betting experience.
New Jersey was the latest state to sign on to welcome betting on the XFL this week, bringing the total to six, including the other big fish in the gambling world, Nevada. Just what the product will look like, how it will piggy-back on the undisputed king of betting leagues, the NFL and just how Vince McMahon's latest vision will be able to avoid the fate suffered by the recently defunct Alliance of American Football (AAF) remains to be seen.
Eight teams (Dallas, New York, Houston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Washington) are ready to go starting February 8 with the biggest question being "Can the league do better than their one-season run in 2001?"
It has been said that any football is better than no football so the XFL will surely fill a void. The XFL has been very proactive in getting its product out there. Exposure shouldn't be a problem with games scheduled to air on ABC, ESPN, Fox, and Fox Sports 1 and with a focus on investing in a strong social media presence, bettors won't have to search hard for content related to the league.
“We’re definitely interested in applying to bet on the XFL,” said Jason Scott, vice president of trading at ROAR Digital, the operators of BetMGM. “We’re of the belief that the American sports betting public has an appetite for even more football, and that the XFL will help sate that demand.”
Although the size of the fan-base has yet to be determined, the optimism for the league comes in the form of some of the early ticket sales and interest in just how the different rules will fly with sports betting fans. 10,000 season tickets have been sold in St. Louis and the rule "tweaks" are designed to deliver a quicker, higher-scoring product for bettors to enjoy.
An announcement of a deal this month with London-based Genius Sports to monitor betting on the league also gives the league a little clout.
There is a history in the US of rivals to the NFL failing. Vince McMahon's first attempt flopped in 2001 and the Alliance of American Football (AAF) went out with a whimper after its first season concluded last year. Part of the blame is on the leagues for trotting a shoddy product but part of the blame has to do with a lack of team loyalty and a lack of data for setting odds.
Bettors and sportsbooks rely on data. How are sportsbooks going to determine betting lines and how are potential customers supposed to trust the oddsmakers based on a totally unfamiliar product.? There will be no trends, there will be no offensive and defensive rankings and there will be little information about players and systems to inform bettors before placing their wagers.
It remains to be seen how and if the XFL will be accepted by bettors with new rules, new teams and an overall unfamiliarity between the league, players and their fanbase. New teams, new players and new rules are poised to throw a wrinkle into the traditional ways that fans have decided on and placed their football wagers.
With just over two weeks until launch, the XFL has yet to release its betting and fantasy plans which is cause for concern. With no major casino provider partnership deals either, there are a lot of question marks ahead of February 8.
Hopes are that the XFL learned from the AAF which had early success and even recorded some better TV ratings than NBA games that they were up against. It was the product on the field that was ultimately the AAF's demise.
It is all up to the XFL to build off its failed past and to produce a product that fans and bettors can get behind. While support looks lukewarm right now, rabid football fans and the betting public will surely give a new football league a shot. That said, the XFL has some work to do in order to win over fans. While “Football is Football”, just putting a product on a field doesn’t ensure success!