The NFL’s first-ever Black Friday game should be another busy day for online sports betting sites amid what will be an already very busy week for bookmakers.
Amazon.com Inc. and the National Football League announced in October that Amazon's Prime Video (already home to Thursday Night Football) would exclusively stream a new Black Friday game in 2023, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving. The teams playing will be determined when next year’s schedule is released.
There is, however, the potential that the NFL’s first game on Black Friday, widely recognized as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, will not be the league’s last. For starters, the NFL now has close ties to Amazon, and Black Friday is huge for the latter's e-commerce business.
"We think there's room for the NFL on Friday,” Commissioner Roger Goodell was quoted as saying.
The NFL and Amazon announced that in 2023, Prime Video will exclusively stream a “Black Friday” game, the Friday after Thanksgiving. The first-ever NFL Black Friday game will take place on November 24, 2023 with an expected kick off of 3pm ET. Teams are TBD.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 18, 2022
There is another interested party that likely agrees with the commissioner: legal sportsbooks. The NFL remains king among sports bettors in the U.S. and Canada, and operators of online sports betting sites see another standalone game driving a healthy chunk of handle their way.
“Island games (Thursday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football) always attract a lot of action,” BetMGM analyst John Ewing wrote in an email to Covers. “We would expect an NFL game on Black Friday to do the same. Matchups and team performance also drive betting interest.”
FanDuel saw things similarly, telling Covers that they expect interest in a Black Friday game to be at least on par with a high-profile "island" game.
Books are already timing promotions around the Black Friday games as well, as retailers do around the de facto shopping holiday. And given some people may be off work, they may be looking for a little something to wager on while sitting on the couch.
More, more, more
It’s also clear that people are up for betting almost anything when it comes to football. The NFL’s popularity with bettors is evident in the monthly figures published by states with legal sports betting, which show a surge in wagering when September rolls around and both college and professional football games start being played in bulk.
In New Jersey, for instance, the state's sports-wagering handle for August was $546.8 million. In September, total betting shot up to $866.7 million. Furthermore, the year-to-date handle for operators on football was $470.4 million as of the end of August, but by September's end, it was $821.3 million.
The head of trading for Sports Interaction, Phill Gray, gave a ballpark estimate of an NFL game on Black Friday generating around 20% more handle than a typical matchup.
“Thanksgiving Thursday is always big so a Friday… should be more,” Gray said in an email.