NFL Draft Offers Sports Fans a Betting Bonanza Starting Thursday, Except in Pennsylvania

Posted on: April 22, 2020, 09:18h. 

Last updated on: April 23, 2020, 09:14h.

Sports fans across the United States actually have something to look forward to Thursday on TV . No, it’s not a re-air of The Last Dance, instead, it’s the first round of NFL Draft.

NFL Draft
Joe Burrow is about to change his stripes – from LSU’s purple and gold to Cincinnati’s orange and black – as the first pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft. (Image: Jason Getz/CBS Sports)

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the three-day event will be a far cry from what the league initially planned. Instead of a star-studded affair on the Vegas Strip in front of hundreds of thousands of fans, we’re basically going to be treated to a glorified fantasy draft on Zoom. The only difference is it’s legal to bet on the NFL Draft.

Unless you’re in Pennsylvania.

Over the past couple weeks, sportsbooks across the country have been touting specials for the Draft. They hope to lure a sports betting populace that’s been force-fed Belarusian soccer and ping pong since the COVID-19 crisis canceled almost all US sports more than a month ago. Unfortunately, bettors in the Keystone State – the third-largest market in the US – cannot place a wager on such bets as how many quarterbacks will go in the first round, or where Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa will end up.

As Doug Harbach, communications director for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), explains to, it’s not necessarily a decision made by the state regulatory body. Rather, the state law that legalized sports betting in the state dictates wagers can only be placed on sports games or events or an individual’s statistical performance

So, since the draft is not a sporting event or athletic contest, is it not something in which wagers can be placed,” Harbach said.

The Draft starts Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN, ABC, and the NFL Network.

Draft Drama Starts with Third Pick

The Cincinnati Bengals get the first pick. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, coming off a year where he won a national title and the Heisman Trophy, will add the No. 1 NFL Draft pick to his resume. FanDuel lists Burrow’s odds at a ridiculous -100000, meaning a $100,000 nets $100. PointsBet and DraftKings are offering bargains in comparison at -10000.

The second pick is nearly as anticlimactic, as the Washington Redskins are going to take Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young. PointsBet lists him at -10000 odds, while FanDuel offers -3000 and DraftKings has him at -2000.

It gets interesting at the third pick, where Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah (+100 PB, +105 FD, +200 DK) is the consensus favorite at the three sportsbooks. But quarterbacks Tagovailoa (+350 PB, +300 FD, +250 DK) and Oregon’s Justin Hebert (+500 PB, +500 FD, +400 DK) are likely targets, especially if the Detroit Lions end up trading out of the pick.

Sportsbooks are also offering specials based on teams, positions, college conferences, and colleges. One of the more interesting ones is being offered by both FanDuel and BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse. Those sportsbooks are offering “trifecta” parlays, giving odds on the first three picks.

Rivers/SugarHouse is also offering trifectas on the top three running backs taken and wide receivers taken. FanDuel also offers a receivers trifecta.

“It takes a great deal of insight to pick three straight position players, especially when you consider potential trades,” said Mattias Stetz, COO of Rush Street Interactive, which operates BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse.

Additional markets will be offered throughout the three-day, seven-round draft.

Daily Fantasy and Free-Play Draft Games Available

For sports fans not in betting states, FanDuel and DraftKings both offer free-play fantasy contests. FanDuel’s two contests, each with a $10,000 prize pool, calls on players to predict the draft’s first 10 picks or build a team based on drafted players. In the latter, players earn points based on when they’re selected.

DraftKings offers a fantasy game with a 13-question contest based on the first round. The jackpot for that game is $15,000.