On The Board At WV Sportsbooks: DraftKings NFL Contests Plus MLB, Golf, NBA and NHL

Written By Dave Bontempo on August 20, 2020 - Last Updated on August 27, 2020

Take a bow, West Virginia sports betting customers. You have stature.

Beyond wagering on a loaded weekend lineup — from MLB and the NBA and NHL playoffs to the Northern Trust PGA tournament from Thursday to Sunday — West Virginia online gamblers have been paid a major compliment by DraftKings Sportsbook.

On Tuesday, the operator launched its prestigious NFL Pro Football Pick ’em Championship in West Virginia. The Mountain State becomes just the third in the nation — joining New Jersey and New Hampshire — to showcase this $1 million competition picking NFL games against the spread all season. It requires a $1,500 entry fee. DraftKings also has launched a free season-long Survivor Pool that pays $1 million both in September and at the end of the season.

Let’s break them down.

Pick ’em championship at one WV sportsbook

A player invests $1,500 for the entire NFL season and selects five games a week against the spread. Each correct selection is one point. The top point-getter in the contest receives $1 million; the prize pool is at least $2 million and paid down to 50 places at last count. It may grow. The mobile app and legal sports betting age have taken a famed Las Vegas brick-and-mortar-based competition to online bettors.

“The beauty of this competition is that you don’t have to fly to Las Vegas to play,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings Sportsbook, told PlayWV.com.

“If you are in West Virginia, you just sign up and play from your mobile apps. We’re delighted to have West Virginia bettors become part of this competition.”

It’s a football handicapper’s dream, providing money and bragging rights. Entrants will make 70 picks, as the competition schedule allows for two bye weeks. If the bettors don’t like the lineup of games one week, they can skip that slate.

Most players will want to reserve a bye for Week 17, when most teams rest regulars, and a midseason real bye week in the NFL, when there may only be 12 games. A 12-game schedule means players will have to select games they don’t love.

The competition includes a $100 bonus if a player goes 5-for-5 in any given week.

Golden Ticket freebies for WV betting fans

DraftKings also has free-to-enter contests, and its $100 million Golden Ticket Giveaway has taken the gambling world by storm. Here’s how it works:

Customers who play in the free-to-enter $1 million Survivor Pool before week one can instantly claim a free reward ranging from $5 to $25,000.

Customers just need to sign into their DraftKings app and opt into the Golden Ticket Giveaway sweepstakes, where one person will win a guaranteed $1 million in cash. The official drawing takes place on Sept. 13 following Sunday’s kickoff.

Through various contests, customers can compete all season long for another free shot at a $1 million top prize. More than 150,000 players entered the pool in the first five days it was announced.

In a Survivor Pool, players select an NFL team to win a game each week. There is no spread. But you can select each team only once per season. The tricky part — and the genius — of this competition is knowing when to select an average or weak team to win a game outright for you. Ties, at this point, are considered victories (as opposed to Suicide Pools, in which ties are losses). Final rules will be announced closer to the NFL season launch.

PGA betting — another potpourri

Golf has not only flourished but been “propped up” by the betting board. The next edition is the Northern Trust, which begins Thursday with several big names.

Avello indicates that the sport no longer has to be concerned with missing the gambling market by starting on Thursday. Patrons watch the early developments and hit betting overdrive throughout the weekend.

“Last week, we took about $500,000 AFTER round 3 on Si Woo Kim,” he said of the third-round leader. “The odds were roughly 5-2.”

That was basically a $ 1.2 million liability for DraftKings, which it evaded. The tournament was won by long shot Jim Herman, at more than 500-1. He surged to win it all late and had little previous backing.

Bettors still believe Herman was a one-trick pony. DraftKings has him at +40000 or 400-1 this weekend. The usual favorites — Bryson DeChambeau at +1100, Justin Thomas at +1300, and Rory McIlroy at +1500 — garner major attention.

“Golf has grown exponentially,” Avello asserted.

“The numbers are just incredible, especially when all the heavyweights are involved. You have great action not only at the beginning but throughout the whole weekend. How many fairways will this guy hit? Will he get a birdie on the next hole? We have also done well with the straight forecast. It’s like an exacta; you pick the two top finishers in exact order.”

MLB betting — the wagering ebb and flow

There is an avalanche of betting opportunities all week for MLB. Here are some trends bettors can analyze heading into the week.

Expect a slew of seven-inning doubleheaders, particularly with the St. Louis Cardinals, who had a multi-week delay before resuming this past weekend. Doubleheaders traditionally result in splits, meaning it’s good for a bettor to take the team that lost the first game in the second one. The age of seven-inning doubleheaders will change that to some extent, enabling a few more teams to earn sweeps. But thinking splits is still a sound foundation.

Watch the over-under line carefully. If you see a “7” for the total, it’s usually a seven-inning game. That’s something a few bettors may trip over, thinking they got a good deal on the “over,” because baseball games have been nine innings forever — until now. All doubleheaders this year are seven innings in each game. Most normal over-unders now are in the range of 9-10 runs. If you see “7,” think seven innings.

Who is hot? The New York Yankees did not lose a game all of last week. They had a torrid homestand against the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox.

Who is deflated? The San Francisco Giants, who play tough at home, got demoralized on successive nights by the Oakland A’s. They blew big ninth-inning leads two games in a row and then faced a pummeling Sunday.

On Monday, the Giants also had a one-run lead in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels and coughed it up. Three blown saves in four games. Anguish if you had the Giants, ecstasy if you had the over, which cashed on all four games.

What happens to the Giants in the near future?

When a team that’s in the .500 range loses games that it looks ready to win, it may fold after that. It has happened repeatedly this season.

Who is better than expected? The Baltimore Orioles swept the Philadelphia Phillies on the road and split four games with the Washington Nationals. FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings projected the Orioles to win 21 games for the season, and they look well on their way to covering that.

Rebounding? The Phillies were swept by the Orioles at home, but then swept a three-game set at home against the New York Mets. They opened the week with a win at Boston. Is this enough of an upswing to lure bettors?

NHL, NBA and WV horse racing

The Vegas Golden Knights became the first team to advance in the NHL playoffs, dismantling the Chicago Blackhawks in five games. The Washington Capitals are the highest-seeded team in jeopardy. They avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders Tuesday night, but still have a long upward climb. The NHL playoffs continue with games every day.

The Portland Trail Blazers came out of nowhere to gain the final spot in the NBA playoffs over the past couple of weeks, while the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers had nothing to play for. What happened Tuesday night? The Trail Blazers upset the Lakers in game one of their playoff set.

This will now be an interesting series. If the Lakers are who they think they are, they will demolish the Blazers in game two on Thursday and then in some later ones. The board will probably reflect that. If you like the Trail Blazers, you will be getting more points than you would think you should.

WV horse racing fans, West Virginia did it again last week. Another superlative payout, this time at Mountaineer Park. The finishing order of Red Cat at 8-1, King’s Reckoning at 30-1, Selling Out at 4-1 and Cee R Bee at 4-1 paid a whopping $28,808 for a $2 superfecta. In this case, nobody was the favorite, so every entry took money. Mountaineer runs Sunday to Wednesday nights, and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races operates Thursday to Saturday at 7 p.m.

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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others. He writes significantly about the emerging world of legal New Jersey sports betting.

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