One thing that legal sportsbooks have brought to Pennsylvania in recent years that the neighborhood bookie might not have before is the chance for futures bets.
That’s not to say that those are always tempting — few sane bettors, for instance, would log on to DraftKings right now and put money down on the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup title, even at 1000/1 odds.
And unfortunately for Pennsylvanians, it may not be a great time to tie up a gambling budget for months in most of the state’s teams, especially those in the NFL and MLB that are all facing long odds. That doesn’t mean some people won’t try, as there’s a potentially lucrative payoff and it provides a rooting interest in every game throughout a season — at least until a team is eliminated.
“I think everyone likes to bet futures,” Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook for DraftKings, said in a recent US Bets interview focusing on the topic. “There are people who concentrate on that and try to find the best value, but I think everybody kinda indulges in futures. They’re a fun proposition for everyone to play, whether it’s the team you root for or if you see some value out there.”
As with much of sports betting, the key to that “value” is checking and using multiple sportsbooks. That kind of line shopping can be even more valuable in the type of long-odds payoffs often associated with futures bets, where you may be betting on a team to beat 30 or so others for a title instead of just one foe head-to-head.
With that in mind, we run down the range of futures bets available right now on Pennsylvania’s teams and highlight the best odds available, whether they’re on clubs with actual prospects for a good sweat on your investment or wagers that may be the equivalent of playing the daily number and praying.
Everyone agrees the 76ers have a legitimate shot of winning the NBA championship after having added James Harden to the roster to team with Joel Embiid and a talented supporting cast. They won four straight games with Harden before losing to the Heat Saturday as he nursed a hamstring injury.
Philadelphia is a heavy favorite to finish the season first in the Atlantic Division, where it has a 1.5-game lead on the Boston Celtics. To highlight the value of line-shopping, however, your online account might look vastly different after a futures bet using the -280 divisional odds from FanDuel versus the -425 available from DraftKings.
Of course, if the Sixers are legitimate contenders for NBA title, that would mean the team is also a strong candidate to win the Eastern Conference. Embiid is also a heavy favorite to win his first league MVP.
The best payoff available among the various 76ers options:
NBA Title: +700 (FanDuel and Kambi-backed sites such as BetRivers, Unibet, and TwinSpires)
Eastern Conference: +340 (DraftKings, Betway)
Atlantic Division: -280 (FanDuel, Betfred)
Embiid MVP: -110 (FanDuel)
The Penguins have slowed down a bit in recent weeks after temporarily rising to the top of the points standings in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division, but they remain a threat to either win the Stanley Cup or at least represent the Eastern Conference in the cup finals.
The Pens have become a longshot to win the Metro, positioned along with the New York Rangers six points behind the Carolina Hurricanes while Pittsburgh has played one more game than Carolina. Still, some who have faith in a group of past Stanley Cup winners like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang might find value in the following futures bets covering the next few months of game action:
Stanley Cup: +1600 (seemingly every online sportsbook in the state except FOX Bet, which offers just +1200)
Eastern Conference: +800 (BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, Betway)
Metropolitan Division: +700 (Betfred, FanDuel, BetMGM)
Villanova Wildcats basketball
Villanova finished second to Providence in the Big East regular season, but it’s considered the cream of the conference when it comes to winning this week’s Big East tourney. It also has a chance to make a strong run in the NCAA Tournament, as the Wildcats frequently do, whether to win the whole thing or make it to the Final Four.
The best return for a futures bet on them for the rest of the season:
NCAA title: +2500 (BetRivers and other Kambi books)
Making Final Four: +600 (DraftKings, Betway)
Big East Tourney winner: +165 (FanDuel)
Rather than an NFL or MLB team, it is the Philadelphia Union of the MLS that represent the most viable futures bet among other pro teams in the state. Their odds worth considering:
MLS championship: +1400 (FanDuel, BetMGM, FOX Bet, Caesars)
Eastern Conference: +650 (BetMGM)
Philadelphia Phillies (and Pirates, sort of)
The start of the baseball season is on hold due to the MLB lockout. Normally, there would be plenty of futures bets being made right now on teams’ season win-loss totals, but none are being offered until it’s clear how much the schedule will be reduced from the standard 162 games.
Futures odds are posted, however, on teams’ chances of winning the World Series, league pennants, and divisions. Even the most ardent Pirates fan presumably realizes the folly of investing in a team that ranges between 100/1 (FOX Bet) and 500/1 (FanDuel) to win the World Series, but the Phillies could be a different story, considering the San Francisco Giants’ strong season overcoming long odds last year.
Here are the best prices for a backer of the Phils:
World Series: +4000 (FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars)
NL Pennant: +1600 (FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, FOX Bet, Betway, Kambi sites)
NL East: +600 (FanDuel)
Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers
It might seem early to place a futures bet on NFL teams, with so much still to be known about each team’s draft and free agency acquisitions. Still, the sportsbooks all post odds for the Eagles and Steelers, including the following best bets:
Eagles Super Bowl: +4500 (FOX Bet)
Steelers Super Bowl: +7000 (FOX Bet)
Eagles NFC title: +1800 (DraftKings, BetMGM, Betway)
Steelers AFC title: +3000 (DraftKings, Betway, Betfred)