Alliance of American Football Weaving Gambling Into Gameday Experience
As a Green Bay Packers fan, the opening weekend of the NFL season was quite the emotional journey. Excitement for the start of the season, disappointment when the team started out poorly against its biggest rival, misery when Aaron Rodgers hurt his knee and was carted to the locker room, acceptance when I came to grips that the season was lost in less than a half, relief when Rodgers returned, hopefulness when the once 20-0 deficit shrunk, and elation when the comeback was complete and the game was won (now I’m just hoping doctor’s don’t find any serious problems with Rodgers’ knee upon further inspection). With the hubbub surrounding the start of the NFL season, I didn’t even realize a completely new football league is going to launch in February, after the Super Bowl, and as one of the teams will be in my adopted city of Atlanta, maybe I’ll have another rooting interest! What brought the Alliance of American Football (AAF) to my attention was a report on ESPN.com about the league’s plans to completely integrate gambling into the fan experience.
As I have written on this site many a time, the NFL has some bizarre complex about admitting that gambling helps the league. Since the very moment the sport was named incorrectly, the NFL has said that it is against sports betting because it is a threat to the “integrity of the game.” In the meantime, we all know that behind closed doors, the league’s mucky-mucks loooooove sports betting because it draws countless more eyeballs that would otherwise watch the games because people who normally wouldn’t care suddenly have money riding on the games! Same goes for daily fantasy football. I know I couldn’t have cared less about the Patriots-Texans game, but I had James White in one of my DFS lineups, so you know damn well I tuned to CBS on Sunday.
AAF Has Absolutely No Qualms About Sports Betting
The Alliance of American Football, though, knows that gambling is a massive driver of fan interest and viewership ratings, so it is not only accepting of sports betting, but it is making it an important part of its games. The AAF, founded by former NFL general manager and football Hall of Famer Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol, the son of former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol, has created its own mobile app that will not only stream the league’s games live, but will also offer fans a betting interface right there on the screen while they are watching.
MGM is an investor in the AAF as well as its exclusive gambling partner for the next three years. The app will be operated by MGM in order to use the gaming giant’s license.
Oh, but the AAF isn’t satisfied with simply allowing fans to bet on the games like they would in any other sports or league. Oh, no. The AAF is ratcheting things up a notch. According to ESPN, players will be outfitted with “wearables” that will track everything they do on the field, such as how fast they run, how far they run, how hard they throw a ball, etc. That data will then be used to adjust betting odds on the fly.
Ebersol explained to ESPN that one example of how this might work – and this is wild – is that the system’s algorithms may determine that the odds of a quarterback throwing an interception will increase as the measured velocity of his passes decreases. There may be live odds on a quarterback throwing an interception, odds which will change on the fly. It sounds like there are loads of prop bet possibilities.
Fans will also be able to bet on the actual data. You think the quarterback will throw a pass faster than 55 miles per hour? Put money on it!
Gambling is going to be so integrated into the Alliance of American Football that players will actually be compensated more the more fans bet on their prop bets. There is no possible way the NFL will ever do anything like that. If it did, Aaron Rodgers would be making a ton of money because of me (not that he needs it).
As mentioned, the AAF will kickoff (football pun!) after the NFL’s Super Bowl, on February 9th, 2019. Thus, it is not designed to be an NFL competitor, but rather another outlet for football fans. The league has already signed more than 300 players and the coaches – names like Dennis Erickson, Mike Riley, Steve Spurrier, and Mike Martz – all have loads of experience in the NFL and college.
There will be eight teams in the AAF’s inaugural season, representing the cities of Atlanta, Birmingham, Orlando, Memphis, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, San Diego, and Phoenix.