Could XFL Betting Become An X-Factor For Indiana’s Legal Sportsbooks?

Posted on January 14, 2020

The XFL is making another attempt at sustainability, this time in a world where legal sports betting exists. Though the league doesn’t yet plan to operate in Indiana, it could still provide a way for Indiana sportsbooks to supply bettors with the football they crave when college football and the NFL are in their offseasons.

The question is to what extent those sportsbooks and those bettors will buy in. Forecasting that is almost as difficult as predicting the success of the league.

Why XFL betting could be a win for Indiana sportsbooks

Simply put, no other sport drives betting in the Hoosier State like football. When the locally-relevant teams failed to stay in contention last month, action floundered at the state’s books.

That means during the college football/NFL offseasons, sportsbooks expect a significant dowturn in handle. While the books simply hope to make enough during the traditional football season to account for the leaner months, the XFL comes with some interesting opportunities.

XFL games will take place during those months which would otherwise not feature any nationally-televised football contests. That gives sportsbooks a football product to offer lines on and promote.

If football fans starved for action latch onto the revived league, that might translate into wagering interest. As sportsbooks normally expect the XFL season to be lean months, any amount of betting traction the league gains would be a win for those books.

Just like any other product, however, that’s dependent on a cost to revenue equation. In order to show some win on XFL games, the sportsbooks have to balance how much they spend on that vertical with how much interest it actually draws. Hoosier State bettors will determine that ratio.

Why Indiana sportsbooks could punt the XFL as a betting product

The lack of a local franchise hurts Indiana sportsbooks’ likely buy-in for the XFL. The closest franchise will be in St. Louis, Missouri.

Because of that, sportsbooks in the Hoosier State may have to run a robust marketing campaign simply to make their customers aware of the lines offered. Obviously that makes the books’ need for win on those odds higher.

The books might skip the XFL’s regular-season contests and focus instead on the league’s playoffs and/or championship game. That approach would also be similar to how many legal sportsbooks treat the Canadian Football League.

In that scenario, they could justify some marketing spend as an exploratory measure to gauge consumer interest in the product. If action on those events is minimal or nonexistent, that could result in the books passing in the future.

That would be a loss not only for Indiana sportsbooks but the XFL as well. Just as sports generate interest in betting, the adverse is true.

How the XFL can help itself and sports betting as well

Before the first kickoffs around the league, players in these separate industries could start to build theiry synergy. Sportsbook operators and the XFL could start forming cross-promotional relationships now.

It’s uncertain whether we’ll see any operators pony up the cash to become the “official sports wagering partner of the XFL,” but the beauty is that right now, such a distinction would probably come on the cheap. The XFL might provide legal sportsbooks in Indiana with a way to fill the football void, but that’s no guarantee.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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