Here’s Why You Couldn’t Bet On The NFL Draft In PA Last Night

Written By Grant Lucas on April 26, 2019 - Last Updated on April 10, 2024
NFL Draft betting ban in PA

Technically speaking, the 2019 NFL league year is already over a month old.

The new year kicked off March 13. The NFL later released 2019 team schedules. And shortly thereafter, sportsbooks in states with legalized wagering, including Pennsylvania, debuted futures odds and opening-week sports betting lines.

Even as the NFL draft neared, bookmakers in Nevada and New Jersey rolled out odds for the highly anticipated event. For example: Will QB Kyler Murray go No. 1 overall?

However, as some may have noticed, PA sports betting did not include such props. As a spokesman with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) noted: “Betting lines can only be directly associated with an athletic event.”

A review of PA sports betting regulations

While the absence of NFL draft betting may come as a surprise to the public, operators have long known of the PGCB restriction.

Act 42 of the state’s gambling expansion law, after all, defines sports wagering the following way.

“The business of accepting wagers on sporting events or on the individual performance statistics of athletes in a sporting event or combination of sporting events by any system or method of wagering, including over the Internet through websites and mobile applications. The term includes, but is not limited to, exchange wagering, parlays, over-under, moneyline, pools and straight bets.”

The central piece of this definition: The business of accepting wagers on sporting events or individual performances. A sporting event carries this definition:

“A professional or collegiate sports or athletic event or a motor race event.”

Applying PA sports betting regulations

With these definitions in place, a PGCB spokesman said, “our regulations mirror what was permitted under the law.”

As such, PA retail sportsbooks and soon-to-launch PA betting apps may offer lines on actual games or matches. Yet events such as the NFL draft remain off limits for legal sportsbooks in the Keystone State. Ditto another event NJ sports betting offered, the Academy Awards.

Fortunately, NFL betting in Pennsylvania remains available to the public. As noted, PA sportsbooks have unveiled opening week betting lines as well as futures for every team.

In addition, bettors have the option to wager on the over/under win totals for their desired teams.

Not much lost for PA sports betting

When New Jersey introduced and carried out Oscars wagering, it was not expected the year’s biggest awards show would result in a heavy revenue stream for operators.

Such a niche offering certainly provides a platform to attract bettors, especially new bettors. Still, NFL draft betting is not expected to have much of an impact on the wallets of bookmakers. And it’s not as if PA sports betting desperately needs a boost.

Consider March, when the Pennsylvania industry accepted $44.5 million in wagers, a monthly record for the state. As a result, some $5.5 million in revenue was generated, more than double the previous top mark. March Madness betting played a role, of course.

While PA sports betting does not allow properties to offer NFL draft markets, the popularity of the league will certainly bring in plenty of bets for the 2019 season. And once the draft concludes, when the public gets a better view of roster make-ups, those bets will pick up in earnest.

So enjoy the rest of the NFL draft, even if you don’t have skin in the game.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.

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