As the XFL gets off the ground, sports betting entities are looking for their opportunities around the new league.
Online gaming companies FanDuel and DraftKings have entered into partnerships with the fledgling league, while a three-way deal between the XFL, iHeartRadio, and sports betting media company VSiN will create live BetCasts that cover the game from a betting perspective.
With a lack of gameplay and roster history, sportsbooks have expressed doubt and uncertainty surrounding XFL betting. Meanwhile, the league and its broadcasters – ABC, ESPN, and Fox Sports – will openly talk about and display odds.
”Our strategy is to embrace the spread. That’s how we characterize it in this first year,” XFL President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Pollack said. “We’re entering this landscape in a thoughtful and responsible manner.”
Pollack said the league is seeking to establish its gaming integrity first, with the potential to partner with gaming operators or casinos in the future. The league is seeking to build on the lessons of the first version of the XFL, which folded after one season in 2001.
“The XFL is an intriguing opportunity; no one knows for sure what the future holds, but they had a learning experience the first go-round,” FanDuel CMO Mike Raffensperger said. “A lot of what they put together is an intriguing product, and football in America is the 800-pound gorilla of the market.”
The XFL fantasy platform on FanDuel is live and offering a $300,000 prize for this weekend, which Raffensperger said is in line with an NBA night.
Raffensperger said league partnerships are a mutually beneficial relationship for FanDuel, as sports fans who bet are more deeply engaged consume more game and ancillary content, which the company will also produce in collaboration with the league. The partnership kicks off with a special XFL kickoff edition of the company’s “More Ways to Win,” hosted by Lisa Kerney, on TVG.
VSiN’s partnership with the league will allow the company’s personalities to provide live BetCasts on iHeartRadio. The shows, two per week, will feature VSiN experts covering the games through a wagering lens, with real-time odds and analysis of the changing lines.
“The way we look at it is an alternative method; we don’t think it’ll be competitive to main broadcasts, it’s complementary and appeals to a set of listeners who are somewhat distinct from the average sports fan,” VSiN Chief Strategy Officer Stephan Shelanski said, adding that the company would also like to get into telecasts as well as radio.
The BetCasts will essentially be testing the waters as the network will look to further expand on the strategy, Shelanski said. Shelanski hopes there will be similar arrangements with more leagues in the future, and the way the XFL is embracing betting from the beginning will show more established leagues innovative ways to integrate betting content.
“XFL deserves a lot of credit to push into this space,” he said. “They want to make their mark, they know it’s out there and can help get attention. We all know all the leagues will ultimately get there, they’re just not apprehensive.”