As more and more states legalize sports betting, the notion that wagering on sports games walks hand-in-hand with the games themselves, creating an unforgettable experience for the audience, is gaining popularity, especially with the XFL, the relatively new professional football league, which is whole-heartedly embracing the idea since its inception in 2018.
Unlike many of the sports leagues who waste time and resources in court to stop wagering on the spread of the games, the XFL is looking for cooperation with the sports betting industry, coordinating its game rules and even encouraging the infusion of betting into the media broadcast.
The concerns that betting is tarnishing the integrity of the game is already a thing of the past, as these days most of the professional sports leagues have official betting partners, also benefiting from selling official data and boosting audience, but the league that is mostly directed towards the gambling industry is the XFL.
From the moment of creating its rules and scoring system, the XFL is using advice from Las Vegas sports book operators, with the idea to keep the spread alive as long as possible, condensing the game by increasing its pace of play and enhancing timing rules and introduce new options regarding automatic plays such as kicking extra points to improve the opportunities for comeback.
- play clock in XFL is 25 seconds /40 seconds in the NFL/ and the clock stops only briefly, except for the final two minutes of each half, called “comeback periods” and the goal of having a similar number of plays per game in less than three hours as the NFL’s was achieved during the first four XFL games, averaging 124 offensive plays and 38.5 points /126.8 offensive snaps and 45.6 points for NFL 2019 regular season/;
- having scored a touchdown, teams can choose between going for one point from the 2-yard line, two points from the 5-yard line or three points from the 10-yard line;
- Teams decide overtime by alternate single plays from the 5-yard line, each worth two points
Unlike seasoned play-by-play announcers who had been forced to disguise gambling references in their broadcasts for years, the XFL is actually stimulating its media partners to include odds-infused broadcasting, with no veiled references in the weekend’s XFL games where the odds were displayed alongside the scores on ESPN and Fox, and Caesars and FoxBet sports books ads popped up regularly.
Initial interest for betting is not that high but promising, as the amount wagered on the first game was higher than the ones for college basketball games and even NBA, still falling behind the NFL wagering though, but the XFL believes that it would only go higher as their cooperation with the betting industry goes deeper and deeper.
The XFL has multiple betting partners, a free-play gaming app /PlayXFL/ and a contract with Genius Sports, a sports data company, to provide integrity services.