It’s hardly a challenge to bet on football in the United States, and the expansion of legalized sports betting in recent months has only made it easier.
Now, the upcoming Alliance of American Football plans to further enhance the betting experience by building their league with bettors in mind from opening day.
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is an upcoming eight-team football league that will play its first game in February. And while spring professional football leagues have a history of failure in the United States, the AAF is trying something a little different to get the attention of fans.
AAF to Feature Integrated Betting Options
On Monday, the AAF announced that it would be offering a gambling product that allows viewers to watch games while being able to place bets on the same screen. Bets will happen with the help of MGM, which has been announced as the exclusive in-game gambling partner of the league for its first three seasons.
The plan is to have the league and MGM outfit players with wearable sensors that allow the collection of a variety of data and statistics that could be used both to update in-game odds and offer unique bets, like the velocity of a thrown football.
“What’s great for us is the access,” MGM president of interactive gaming Scott Butera told ESPN. “Provided that it’s single entity, all the teams and venues are all aligned and there isn’t any union issues.”
Players Could Profit from Betting
MGM has also promised to share all betting data with the league. According to AAF co-founder Charlie Ebersol, that could mean a payday for players who become popular in prop betting.
“In our system, there’s really a limitless cap on what a player can make,” Ebersol told ESPN. “Monday from the amount of bets placed on them is one of the ways.”
These initiatives would put the AAF far ahead of other professional sports leagues in the United States when it comes to the integration of gambling with their on-field product. It’s the kind of innovation that could draw extra attention to a league that might otherwise struggle to build an initial fan base.
Despite all the attention that the gambling integration might draw, however, Ebersol still says that the league is about football first. Even the app will have more family-friendly options, such as an enhanced fantasy product that anyone can play regardless of age.
The AAF has already signed more than 300 players to its eight yet-to-be-named teams, primarily drawing on talent that failed to make NFL teams after participating in summer combines and preseason activities. The eight teams are expected to be located in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and San Diego.
The league plans to use a unique ruleset that will shorten the time of games. That includes eliminating kickoffs and shortening the play clock to 30 seconds to speed up the pace of play.