NFL season win totals are always a highly-anticipated betting market each spring, as is almost everything connected to America’s most popular professional sports league. But those looking for that option on the betting board will have to wait just a little longer this year, as no book has plans at this point to put up NFL win totals before mid-May - even in the wake of Thursday’s release of the 2017-18 NFL schedule.
CG Technology has been the trailblazer in this realm at least the last couple of years. In fact, in 2015, CG books put NFL win totals up on February 19, mere weeks after the Super Bowl, and did likewise in 2016, posting on February 24. But CG Technology, whose operations include books at The Cosmopolitan, Hard Rock and Venetian, is dialing it back this year, with no interest in beating the pack.
“We have lost on them two straight years, and the main reason was because we posted them so early,” Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG, tells Covers of NFL season win totals. “So we are being more conservative this year.”
In other words, CG won’t be first. At this point, it looks like it’ll be around mid-May before any shop puts up win totals. But Jay Kornegay, who runs the Superbook as Westgate’s vice president of race and sports, said the timing is more a matter of business as usual.
“We kind of stick to our own schedule. We try to keep our postings consistent, in the same time period, after the NFL schedules are released,” Kornegay tells Covers, adding the Superbook expects to post on May 14. “We’re confident in our own numbers and in our staff, a good group headed up by Ed Salmons.”
Kornegay noted the few weeks after the Final Four are also prime vacation season for his employees, as things slow down at least a bit. So it makes sense to wait for the schedule release and, to a lesser extent, the NFL Draft, from April 27-29.
“The draft could affect it, obviously with trades and key players that might be drafted or signed,” he said. “But it’s very rare that the actual draft will affect those numbers.”
Up north at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno, sportsbook director Steve Mikkelson doesn’t shy away from being first to market. He prides himself on having baseball season win totals up before any other book, and was first to post NFL season win totals in 2013. But like Kornegay’s crew at the Superbook, he’s got a process he doesn’t stray from on the NFL.
“I always need the NFL schedule before I put anything up,” Mikkelson said. “I go over each team’s schedule, and I award one point for a sure win, a toss-up gets a half-point, and if I think they’re going to lose, I give them zero. Then I just add up all the points, and that’s their total. If it’s 8.5, and I really like 9, that’s where you add some juice – 8.5 with the over -130, or something like that.
With CG holding off, there’s a chance that Mikkelson might be first out of the gate this year, but again, it’s more a matter of timing than desire.
“I’d actually hope to have them up the weekend between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness,” he said, which would be May 13-14, right around when the Superbook plans to post. “That’s a great spot to do it. The draft is over, you have the schedule, most of the big free agents have signed. Just put pen to paper and figure it out.”
At the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas, season win totals aren’t yet the top priority. Rather, sportsbook director Tony Miller, supervisor Aaron Kessler and the rest of the oddsmaking crew are focusing in on tonight’s schedule release for another reason.
“We’re putting together numbers right now for the NFL’s first week of games. We’ll have those up on Friday morning,” Miller said. “And we’re concentrating on our college football Games of the Year. Once the draft is over and things settle down, we’ll start coming up with NFL season win totals. We’ll probably have them up at the beginning of June.
“If someone else is first, and we’re second or third, that creates business too, because bettors like to shop around.”
Offshore site Sportsbook.ag usually puts up win totals in early May. Risk management supervisor Peter Childs said his shop might do the same this year, but not before somebody else’s numbers hit the market and are bet into a bit.
“We’re not going to be the first, but we won’t be last either,” Childs said.
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.