Betting bullets: Early NFL win total action, Jake Paul exceeds books' expectations

Last week provided a glimpse of the sports betting future in the U.S.

NFL season win totals were released before the draft and before the final schedule was released. The PGA Tour and Phoenix Suns announced plans to put retail sportsbooks at their venues in Arizona. And a boxing match between a social media personality and a UFC fighter drew more betting interest than bookmakers expected.

We take a closer look in this week's Betting Bullets, ESPN Chalk's sports betting news roundup.

Early NFL season win total action

The betting market for the NFL season is taking shape ... in April. Season win totals and division odds hit the boards last week at multiple sportsbooks.

Just five years ago, Las Vegas sportsbooks were in the habit of waiting until after the draft and the schedule release before posting offerings like season win totals. Sometimes they didn't show up until late June, after the NBA Finals concluded. Vegas was the only legal game in town those days, though. Those days are long gone.

Now, the expanding legal betting market in the U.S. is spitting out numbers earlier than ever, as bookmakers fight for their share of the money that's bet on the always popular NFL season win totals. It's just one of many things that have changed since states began launching legal sports betting markets over the last three years.

A few bullet points on the early action on Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill's win totals:

• The win totals opened Friday at Caesars/William Hill. By Sunday afternoon, no team's win total had moved off its opening numbers, but there were some changes. Here are the sides that attracted the most early money:

• Washington Football Team over 8: The price on the over opened at 8 -105 on Friday. By Sunday, the price to bet the over was 8 -125.

• New England Patriots over 9: The price on the over opened at 9 -125. By Sunday, the price to bet the over in Nevada is 9 -145.

• Detroit Lions under 5: The price on the Lions under opened at 5 +110. By Sunday, the price on the under was even money.

• Las Vegas Raiders under 8: The price on the Raiders under opened at 8 -135. By Sunday, the price on the under was 8 -140.

• Chicago Bears under 7.5 under: The price on the Bears under opened at 7.5 -125. By Sunday, the price was 7.5 under -135.

Paul packs punch in ring, at sportsbooks

• Saturday's pay-per-view fight between social media personality Jake Paul and UFC fighter Ben Askren was the most heavily bet boxing match so far this year at multiple sportsbooks.

Yes, it's only April, and there haven't exactly been many marquee boxing bouts, but the betting handle on Paul-Askren exceeded bookmaker's expectations and showed that celebrity status can trump boxing pedigree. William Hill compared the handle on the fight to a main event of a UFC card and reported taking $160,000 bet on Paul at -160 from a bettor in Nevada. Paul won by knockout in the first round.

Suns, PGA Tour plan on-site sportsbooks in Arizona

• Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation last week authorizing sports betting in the state. Twenty sports betting licenses will be issued, 10 to tribal gaming operators and 10 sports teams and/or venues.

The PGA Tour has announced it was putting a high-end retail DraftKings sportsbook at TPC at Scottsdale, and the Phoenix Suns said they were teaming with FanDuel to put a retail sportsbook in their arena.

The location for a sportsbook at TPC at Scottsdale is being determined. The sportsbook at Phoenix Suns Arena will be accessible directly from the arena to fans who are of age. The rule applies to any NBA arena that opens a sportsbook in a location that has legal sports betting.

Curry and the over

Many know Steph Curry is a scoring machine, but have you ever considered it all through the lens of an oddsmaker? The two-time MVP has hit the over in his points prop in nine of the past 10 games.

"Harden did this a few years ago. There is always a number for everything. The sharp guys will bet the under so we can usually get the right number. But when Curry is on a roll, it's a little harder," Las Vegas Westgate SuperBook executive director John Murray told ESPN.

Curry's only under was by a half-point, and it came Thursday, when he finished with a mere 33 points.

Dodging the Dodgers

The Dodgers and Padres just finished a weekend series that featured all sorts of intense game action. Los Angeles survived the first two games but San Diego did salvage a win on Sunday, 5-2. The Dodgers have started the season with a 13-3 record, and 11 of their 13 wins have cover the run line (-1.5).

Sharp money backed the under in the Dodgers' win total, and it made sense. No team with a win total of at least 100 wins has hit the over since 1990. In fact, none has ever reached 100 wins with that preseason total.

New sports betting marketing report

A new report by the UNLV International Gaming Institute examining sports betting marketing warns U.S. operators of potential backlash if the wrong messages are delivered to consumers. The report released last week highlights three key insights for operators and media outlets to consider:

1. Media outlets should avoid referencing online sportsbooks that are not licensed in the U.S. "If an illegal site is mentioned, the public should also be made aware that these illegal outlets lack regulatory oversight, consumer protections and responsible gambling programs," the report states.

2. Sports betting operators should not target youth and those with gambling problems. "Restrictions pertaining to sports wagering messaging should be put in place with the platforms that are particularly popular among underage groups (e.g. Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat)," the report suggests.

3. Sports betting operators should adhere to established best practices of countries that have longer histories of legalized sports betting.