Today we take a break from our Sports Betting 101 series to issue an update on legalized sports betting in America. We'll also break down several NFL win totals and prop bets offering value.
It flew under the radar, but the state of Washington received some much needed good news last week. On Wednesday, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that legalized sports betting in the Olympia state. In doing so, Washington became the 21st state in the country to legalize betting and the first state in 2020. Now 42% of the country resides in a state with legal betting, an idea once considered unheard of in a pre-PASPA world prior to 2018's landmark Supreme Court decision.
Washington has been one of the worst-hit states by the Coronavirus, so legalized betting was a welcome sight to Mariners and Seahawks fans in need of good news. It also comes right in time for the new Seattle NHL franchise to debut in 2021 (likely called the Seattle Kraken).
The bill only allows sports betting on tribal land. Mobile betting is only permitted within tribal casinos, of which there are 29 across the state. All casinos are currently shut down due to COVID-19, but will begin accepting wagers once sports return. Also, bettors will not be allowed to wager on in-state colleges and universities. So, unfortunately, betting on Gonzaga or the Washington Huskies will not be allowed.
For those keeping track at home, here is the updated list of states that have legalized sports betting: Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Hampshire, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, West Virginia, Washington and DC.
Now onto NFL win totals offering value...
Detroit Lions Over 6.5 Wins
The Lions finished with the 3rd-worst record in the NFL last year going just 3-12-1 overall. Their win total for this upcoming season has been set at 6.5 and, surprisingly, smart money has quietly been pouring in on the over. The over 6.5 is being juiced up to -125 at FanDuel, -118 at DraftKings and -121 at PointsBet signaling market consensus across the board. Detroit has added several via free agency or trade, including LB Jamie Collins, S Duron Harmon, CB Desmond Trufant, T Hala Vaitai, DT Danny Shelton and QB Chase Daniel. The Lions also own the #3 pick in the draft. With a healthy Matthew Stafford and head coach Matt Patricia in must-win mode entering Year 3, can Detroit go 7-9 or better? Based on their juiced up over 6.5 win total, the answer might be yes.
Cleveland Browns Under 8.5 Wins
Just like last offseason, the Browns have generated a lot of buzz by bringing in several key players via free agency. Last year, it was Odell Beckham, this year it is TE Austin Hooper and OL Jack Conklin. Cleveland finished 6-10 last season and their win total is set at 8.5 at most shops. However, smart money isn't buying Cleveland to go 9-7 or better. At FanDuel, the under 8.5 is juiced up to -136 and at PointsBet the under 8.5 is juiced up to -125. DraftKing started at 8.5 and has actually dipped to 8, further evidence of pro money hitting the under. The half win could end up being crucial as an 8-8 season would cash the Under at FD and PB but push at DK.
Houston Texans Over 7.5 Wins
Buying low and selling high is a guiding philosophy for value-driven wiseguys, especially when it comes to offseason overreaction to win totals. The Texans finished 10-6 last season, but have gotten crushed by fans and the media alike for trading away star WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals this offseason. Conventional wisdom says losing Hopkins is huge and Houston is a far worse team without him on the field. However, pros seem to be buying low on the Texans to go 8-8 or better this upcoming season. Their win total is 7.5 with the over juiced to -120 at FanDuel. It has moved from 7.5 to 8 at PointsBet. DraftKings is hanging 7.5 even -110 both sides. Jumping on the over 7.5 before it goes to 8 looks appealing to many sharps. After all, Houston still has Deshaun Watson.