The summer slowdown has likely bottomed out for New York’s betting operators with the lowest cumulative weekly handle figures in a year posted for week ending July 16.
Thoughts are already turning to the NFL preseason but NY sportsbooks remain stubbornly slow at launching markets for football’s summer series of warm-up games.
BetMGM is one of the few betting sites to already have Hall of Fame odds up with New Yorkers eagerly eyeing how the Jets will fare against the Cleveland Browns. This year, the annual exhibition game takes place on August 3 in its regular slot a week before the NFL preseason starts.
It comes as no surprise that football and basketball make up the bulk of sports bets placed in the US. According to data collected by CRG Global for the Variety platform, over 80% of legal age American sports bettors wager on the NFL. 54% regularly bet on the NBA.
The latter stages of the 2022 NFL season saw New York's betting handle peak this year with a total of $1,788,991,455 wagered across all of the state’s sportsbooks in January. Numbers held reasonably firm as the NBA betting season continued with a healthy $1,785,952,978 for March before handle started dropping as the pro basketball campaign concluded in April.
Compare those figures with a 12-month weekly low in the third week of July. Total NY handle for week ending July 16 was $161.96 million against 2023 highs that were north of $400 million weekly for the Super Bowl and during March Madness.
The NFL preseason may offer a way back in for sportsbooks and bettors seeking to up their activity. August 2022 saw a jump of 9% in New York betting handle on July with September up a sharp 44% on the previous month.
BetMGM was one of the first to market with odds for the Hall of Fame game posted during week commencing July 17. As yet, few of the other New York sportsbooks have followed suit but are likely to catch up as July draws to a close.
Early line movement for the ceremonial contest held at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio has already gone against New York Jets backers.
BetMGM’s moneyline odds on the Jets to win began at +100 but had already dropped to -110 by week ending July 23. That is likely due to oddsmaker wariness of being overexposed as New York, the nation’s biggest betting market, gets behind the Jets. The Browns have been holding steady at -1.5-point favorites though.
NFL preseason betting has often been avoided by football fans as games are often hard to call. However, the Hall of Fame matchup offers a relatively unique option to get in on the action after a lengthy period without pro gridiron games.
The preseason curtain raiser hints at patterns that will follow in the weeks ahead of the NFL proper. Preseason betting is typically the domain of recreational bettors placing ‘fun’ wagers but also sharks identifying value as coaches tinker with their lineups and books being more vulnerable to inaccurate lines. Estimates suggest that professional gamblers account for 50% to 70% of all money bet on the NFL preseason.
The Hall of Fame game will give us a first opportunity to take a look at the Jets squad for 2023-24. The addition of Aaron Rodgers has the Green Gang moved up to second favorites to win the AFC East at odds of +250 at BetMGM, behind the Buffalo Bills on +130.
No team has ever played the Hall of Fame game and gone on to win the Super Bowl in the same season. What odds the Jets becoming the first? You can back them to win both at odds of around +2900 at BetMGM (odds correct at the time of writing).