LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Sports fans fed up with watching marble races and online games of horse can rejoice; there's a real sporting event happening Thursday.
The NFL draft is also one of the first opportunities for bettors to get back to placing wagers. It's perfect timing because sportsbooks have been hit especially hard by the shutdown.
"We had to furlough over 600 people," said Joe Asher, CEO, William Hill. "That's been really, really tough."
Asher says the company has started a foundation to help employees who haven't been able to collect unemployment yet. He's donating his entire salary. Employees who haven't been furloughed are donating to the fund, as well.
The NFL draft may provide a temporary boost in business. In fact, William Hill has expanded its list of prop bets this year.
🏈 The most popularly bet player draft position props are on Tua, Herbert and Love. 🏈— William Hill US (@WilliamHillUS) April 21, 2020
Check out all the odds & trends for the over 💯 2020 Pro Football Draft Props at William Hill ⬇️
"I've got about 15 to 20 bets myself that have already been made," said Gill Alexander, bettor and host on Vegas Stats and Information Network.
"I have no doubt [the shutdown of sports] has sparked more interest [in the draft] than any other year."
Alexander has been forced to take a hiatus from betting, but called the break "refreshing."
"That's priced right - I think Herbert should be the favorite."— VSiN (@VSiNLive) April 20, 2020
Take a look - here's @beatingthebook and @dannyburke5 on if we've reached a point where Justin Herbert will be the second QB taken. pic.twitter.com/uScUqO5eqf
The sports betting industry could use more people like Alexander.
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, sportsbooks pulled in an overall handle of $489 million in February 2020. March's numbers will be released soon.
You'd want to be the under on the recent revenue.
"There's Russian table tennis, soccer in Nicaragua. That' doesn't move the needle," said Asher. "It's been really tough with sports suspended."
Those wanting to bet on the NFL draft will need a mobile app like William Hill's. Currently, they are not registering new customers because sportsbooks are closed.
When they finally do open, Asher says safety will be the top priority.
"That might mean every other betting station, rather than every one, being manned," said Asher. "[You will see] a lot more hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks in casinos than we ever imagined."
Nobody knows how or when sports will return, but bookies and bettors agree: this hiatus is all about perspective.
"There's a lot more important things in the world [than sports and betting] these days."
Gill Alexander's 'best bets'
- Conference vs. Conference bets
- School vs. Conference bets
- LSU -5 1/2 players drafted in the 1st round
- Clemson +5 1/2 players drafted in 1st round
- More Alabama players picked than the Big 10 (not as confident about this one)