Online Sportsbooks Gradually Keep Adding More Options, Promotions As Leagues Return

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With each week, the sports betting options on Pennsylvania’s online/mobile sites are growing as professional organizations around the U.S. and world lift their COVID-19 shutdowns.

This week brought the return of the PGA Tour via the Charles Schwab Challenge, which teed off Thursday, plus more European soccer choices in addition to a weekend slate of UFC and NASCAR and other non-major sports.

It’s not yet the kind of sports calendar that bettors might find themselves enjoying in late summer, when the potential exists to indulge simultaneously in NBA and NHL playoffs, a shortened MLB regular season, the NFL’s start, golf major championships, and more.

But it’s a heckuva lot better than April, when soccer from obscure countries and table tennis few would have ever considered betting on before surfaced as primary options.

Pennsylvania-centric promotions exist

There’s still a lot uncertain about the return of major U.S. sports, most notably their start dates, but this much is true: The nine digital sports wagering sites in Pennsylvania want your business now, based on some of their offers advertised Friday morning.

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All of the sites offer enticing sign-up bonuses if you don’t have an account with them already, and those tend to remain fixed, but special promotions and “odds boosts” are constantly changing.

One thing the Pennsylvania sites do is tailor some of those special offers to the pro teams based in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, especially the ones doing well. The strategy takes advantage of the greater interest fans have in wagering on their own teams rather than less familiar ones across the country.

Among the current examples:

  • DraftKings is offering a Pennsylvania-oriented NHL odds boost: A wager that either the Flyers or Penguins will win the Stanley Cup can be had at 10/1 odds currently, which the oddsmaker says is boosted from 6/1.
  • DraftKings has boosted odds on the 76ers making the NBA Eastern Conference finals to +345 (instead of +300).
  • FanDuel has boosted odds of the Eagles winning the NFC East division title to +170 (from +140) for those who opt in.

FanDuel, DraftKings are leaders again

All kinds of special offers are out there that have no Pennsylvania connection to them. Some of them relate to events taking place this weekend hundreds or even thousands of miles away, like soccer in Spain.

Again, FanDuel and DraftKings, which combined represent more than two-thirds of the betting handle among the sites within the state, are the leaders in advertising the biggest enhancements.

A smart bettor will check all the sites in hopes of finding the right offer that appeals to their interest, but here’s some of what was being presented Friday morning:

  • FanDuel has special incentives to bet at least $50 on a team to win either the NBA or NHL titles. Regardless of whether that particular bet proves successful, you get $10 in site credit for each win by your NBA team in its first five regular season games upon the league’s return. If you pick an NHL team, you are credited with $10 for each win in its first five playoff games.
  • For Saturday night’s UFC card, DraftKings lets you bet a fighter to win, and if they end up losing by any knockout, submission, or disqualification, you receive up to $25 back as a free bet.

Futures bets on PA teams always an option

Without any promotions attached, the futures bet options are always intriguing on the Pennsylvania teams as we await the start of their actual seasons.

For instance, FanDuel is offering over/under win totals on the NFL teams, which are set at 9.5 for the Eagles and 9 for the Steelers. The Eagles are 19/1 to win the Super Bowl and the Steelers 24/1.

Meanwhile, the nature of the MLB over/unders has been adjusted to reflect the still uncertain number of games to be played (assuming there’s a season at all).

You now bet on whether baseball teams will be over or under a certain winning percentage, which FanDuel has set at 52.5% for the Phillies and 42% for the Pirates (set as an even-money wager if you take the over).

A lot more is sure to be offered as leagues set more in concrete about their return, so stay tuned.

And meanwhile, betting options on live sports like golf and soccer are more abundant than ever, as the sportsbooks look to fill the void, knowing bettors want to do the same.

Photo provided by Shutterstock

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at [email protected].

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