Those who thought football betting concluded with this year’s Super Bowl were vastly mistaken. The XFL, a rebooted American football league, debuted this past weekend and generated a lot of betting at West Virginia sportsbooks, as well as across the country.
Wrestling legend Vince McMahon owns the new football league. This is the second time around for the XFL after starting in 2001 initially. Unfortunately for the league, it only lasted one season.
However, the XFL is back now and better than ever. Its opening weekend proved to be a significant success, with a lot of people tuning in and a lot of bettors putting down action.
Perhaps the expansion of legal sports betting will help the XFL sustain this time around.
The new league consists of eight teams, featuring a lot of former NFL players and coaches. The XFL is available on two of the three active mobile sports betting apps in WV:
Retail sportsbooks have expanded, too. The land-based books at Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras Casino are open for business again after being forced to shut down for almost a year.
Let’s breakdown XFL betting from its opening weekend and preview the slate of games for Week 2.
Betting on the XFL
While sportsbooks around the US were hopeful that XFL betting would increase wagers, it’s possible that the opening week exceeded expectations. Although the XFL will never reach the amount of betting attention that the NFL does, it could still bring in plenty of handle.
According to DraftKings, its New Jersey and Pennsylvania sportsbooks saw the most significant wagers.
In the Garden State, DraftKings earned 20 times more handle and 16 times more bets overall on the XFL’s opening day compared to the Alliance of American Football. The AAF was another experimental pro football league that began its season in Feb. 2019. The league only played a portion of its inaugural year before shutting down.
In comparison to the NFL, the XFL didn’t do too poorly, either. In NJ, both of the Saturday games (opening day) generated more than 1.4 times the betting handle than the NFL’s preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game.
Even though the preseason games obviously don’t count for much, it is still the first NFL football played in a long time. A lot of people tune in to at least the start of the Hall of Fame Game and the fact that the XFL’s betting figures topped it is encouraging.
Although 10% might not seem like a massive amount, it is when looking at NFL regular season wagering. The XFL’s two Saturday games totaled around 10% of the handle on DraftKings for the 2019 NFL primetime kickoff between the Packers and Bears.
There is no guarantee that the XFL will continue to see this volume of wagers, but it is definitely a great start.
Part of what might be helping the new league at sportsbooks is its transparency with gambling. Unlike the NFL, the XFL is embracing betting on its sport.
Every games’ announcers were able to openly comment on the game’s point spread and over/under. The graphics on the TV scoreboard even showed how many points the favorite was giving and what the game’s total was set at.
After the game, it also stated which bets would’ve won. These differences from the NFL are essential to the XFL’s success and absolutely brings more betting attention to the league.
XFL Week 2 preview
Saturday, Feb. 15: New York Guardians vs. DC Defenders
Both the New York Guardians and DC Defenders impressed in their first XFL games. DC defeated Seattle, 31-19, in the league’s 2020 debut, while New York dominated Tampa Bay on Sunday, 23-3.
Of course, quarterback play is going to be a major factor in any football game, and these two teams have very capable players. DC’s Cardale Jones and NY’s Matt McGloin are both former NFL guys, and it showed.
Jones made plenty of throws and helped DC lead the league with nine yards per pass.
He may have a tougher time this week, though, as the Guardians recorded eight quarterback hits in Week 1. If they’re able to get consistent pressure again, Jones might not have much time to find receivers down the field.
The winner of this matchup will be 2-0 and in a great position in the standings.
- Moneyline: -275
- Moneyline: +215
Saturday, Feb. 15: Tampa Bay Vipers vs. Seattle Dragons
The other Saturday game features the two teams that lost to DC and NY. While they both showed flashes of quality play, both Tampa Bay and Seattle struggled for most of their first game.
While Seattle scored the fourth-most points last week, it surrendered 31 and a lot of yardage through the air. Tampa, on the other hand, only managed to score three points.
The Dragons leaned heavily on their running backs and will probably do so again this week. Ja’Quan Gardner, Kenneth Farrow, and Trey Williams combined for 27 total touches against DC.
Despite only putting up three points, the Vipers averaged the second-most yards per play in the XFL with 5.5. If they’re able to capitalize on their red-zone opportunities, they’ll have a lot more success this week.
- Moneyline: -157
- Moneyline: +130
Sunday, Feb. 16: Dallas Renegades vs. Los Angeles Wildcats
Dallas and Los Angeles were also both losers in Week 1. The Renegades were expected to have one of the better offenses in the league but struggled with starting quarterback Landry Jones sidelined. They lost to St. Louis, 15-9.
LA managed to score 17 points, but its defense couldn’t get many stops, giving up 37 points to Houston.
On a positive note, Dallas only committed 19 yards worth of penalties. It led the XFL in this area.
The Wildcats’ Nelson Spruce was the first receiver in league history to gain 100 yards. He caught 11 passes for 103 yards in the opener. Spruce will look to keep the hot start going against a Renegade defense that only gave up 15 points a week ago.
- Moneyline: -190
- Moneyline: +155
Sunday, Feb. 16: St. Louis BattleHawks vs. Houston Roughnecks
The final game of Week 2 involves the other two victorious teams. St. Louis took down Dallas by six, and Houston blew out LA by 20.
The BattleHawks ran the ball often against Dallas. They carried it 42 times, which accumulated to 59% of their total plays. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu played a large role in that production, gaining 77 yards on the ground.
St. Louis will probably continue to run this week, especially against the Houston defensive front. The defense accounted for 16 quarterback hits, including five from defensive end Kony Ealy.
- Moneyline: -315
- Moneyline: +255
XFL betting odds
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, XFL teams finished the first week in the following order in terms of generating betting handle:
- New York Guardians
- Dallas Renegades
- Tampa Bay Vipers
- DC Defenders
- Louis BattleHawks
- Houston Roughnecks
- Los Angeles Wildcats
- Seattle Dragons
Besides wagering on the weekly games, it’s not too late for bettors to get a futures bet down on who will win the XFL title. DraftKings has the following odds to win the championship:
- DC Defenders +300
- New York Guardians +400
- Houston Roughnecks +475
- Dallas Renegades +650
- Tampa Bay Vipers +650
- Louis BattleHawks +700
- Los Angeles Wildcats +1200
- Seattle Dragons +1400