Lost in the frenzy of NFL wild-card betting has been the successful under-the-radar rollout of legal sports betting in New England's 4th-most populous state—New Hampshire.
On Dec. 30, legal sports betting went live in New Hampshire. According to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, $3.44 million was wagered in the first week of legal betting from more than 16,000 newly registered sports bettors (revenue will benefit the state educational system). DraftKings signed a six-year deal to be the official sportsbook for mobile and retail betting in the Granite State.
To no one's surprise, a flood of Massachusetts residents flocked to New Hampshire to place bets on the Patriots (unsuccessfully). Sununu even placed a ceremonial $82 wager on the Pats to win the Super Bowl (he is the 82nd Governor of the state).
With New Hampshire now online, Rhode Island is no longer the only legal state in New England. While Rhode Island had a long head start and also has a pair of popular physical casinos (Twin River), the one disadvantage is that bettors need to physically register at Twin River before being able to bet via mobile. The in-person requirement has been a hurdle and annoyance for bettors, which has caused sign-ups to fall below projections.
On the flip side, New Hampshire lawmakers smartly wrote legislation that only requires bettors to drive over the border into New Hampshire and they can immediately download the DraftKings app, register and place bets; no in-person registration required at a casino. For this reason, New Hampshire is expected to quickly catch up to and overtake Rhode Island.
The elephant in the room is Massachusetts. The most populous New England state with the most passionate, die-hard sports fans is still not legal. Gov. Charlie Baker hopes to launch sometime in 2020, but a sports betting bill still hasn't been passed as state lawmakers continue to drag their feet.
Ironically, the tiny state of Vermont introduced a sports betting bill for the first time yesterday. With no casinos in the Green Mountain state, the bill would allow mobile and online betting only.
Residents of Massachusetts (like myself) can only hope that New Hampshire's successful launch puts further pressure on Massachusetts to act.
With New Hampshire now live, there are now 14 legal states accepting bets and six others who have approved legal betting but haven't yet launched.
Now back to betting...
Today's action includes 9 NBA games, 3 NHL games and 56 college basketball games. For an updated breakdown of sharp action across the marketplace, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 3:30 p.m. ET.
We've spent the past two days previewing early sharp action for the AFC and NFC divisional-round games. Now let's discuss how the market is shaping up for the next big game on the horizon—the college football national championship.
Monday at 8 p.m. ET: LSU (14-0, ranked 1st) vs Clemson (14-0, ranked 3rd)
LSU is one of the most dominant college football teams we've seen in years. The Tigers are 14-0, including 9-3-2 ATS, and have beaten their opponents by an average score of 49-22. LSU also features the Heisman Trophy winner and likely No. 1 overall pick, Joe Burrow, and just demolished Oklahoma 63-28 in the semifinal, easily covering as 12.5-point favorites. Clemson went 11-3 ATS on the season, outscoring their opponents by an average margin of 45-12.
This line opened with LSU listed as a 5-point favorite (some books opened closer to -4). The public is absolutely pounding LSU to the tune of nearly eight-out-of-10 bets, which means this is shaping up to be one of the most lopsided title bouts in recent memory. This heavy support (including some early sharp action) pushed the line up to the key number of 6. That's when we saw some smart money from value-minded wiseguys get down on Clemson at 6. The line either remains at 6 or has fallen to 5.5 depending on the sportsbook.
LSU has a "home-field" advantage as this game will be played at the Superdome, home of the Saints and also LSU's backyard. Clemson has unique value in this game, though. The Tigers are super contrarian in what will be the most heavily bet game of the season (or ever as Matt Youmans reports in this week's Point Spread Weekly). The Tigers are also the beneficiary of an inflated line. A unique buy low, sell high recency bias element exists as well, as LSU rolled over Oklahoma in the semifinal and Clemson barely edged Ohio State 29-23 as 2.5-point favorites. Clemson has an experience advantage as well, having played in three of the last four national title games and won two of them (2016 and 2019).
The total opened at 69. Two-thirds of bets are taking the over. This lopsided action pushed the total up to 70, at which point sharp under buyback dropped it down to 69.5. The over is 9-5 in LSU games this season but the under is 8-6 in Clemson games.