Notable bets: NFL and betting relationship evolving; bettors' success remains same

Detroit's big comeback vs. San Francisco fell short but impacted many bettors. Steven King/Icon Sportswire

Yesterday marked the fourth NFL opening Sunday since the legal sports betting market began expanding in the U.S.

Licensed bookmakers are now operating in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Arizona, Washington and South Dakota launched betting markets Thursday, just in time for the Cowboys-Buccaneers game. Billions of dollars are being wagered every month, and a fierce battle for America's betting dollar is playing out on TV.

Seven sportsbooks--- Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, BetMGM, FOX Bet and WynnBET--- have partnered with the NFL and are allowed to advertise during games. Six sportsbook ads are permitted during national broadcasts, but, when you toss in commercials for daily fantasy sports operators, it seems like more. Yet, there doesn't seem to be anywhere near the negative backlash that occurred when FanDuel and DraftKing bombarded the airwaves with DFS big check ads to start the 2015 NFL season.

People were seriously angry and annoyed back then, including politicians and attorneys general. There were congressional hearings on fantasy sports, alongside federal and state investigations. But if you look at FanDuel and DraftKings' positions now--- they're No. 1 and 2 in market share--- maybe it was all worth it. Maybe the sharp folks, who at the time said DFS was the bridge to normalizing sports betting, were right. Maybe the general public can't tell the difference.

It's just the first week, but on Sunday night, after a day full of NFL games that included sportsbook commercials, reactions to sports betting's increased presence from the always-rational gambling community on Twitter were relatively tame and dripping with sarcasm, instead of venom.

Others were happy with any commercial that didn't play, "Scoop there it is."

It wasn't just the advertisements. Several stadiums opened betting lounges this week. They're basically sportsbar-sportsbook hybrids that only allow mobile betting, which you can of course also do from your seats. Point spreads and over/under totals were more visible on Sunday pregame shows. The NFL Network even had a pair of personalities making picks against the spread.

The times, as Mr. Dylan put it, they are a-changin' ... however, the betting public's success rate is not. Week 1 goes to the bookmakers. Now, for the notable bets.

NFL notable bets

• "I couldn't have asked for a better day to start the season," Tom Gable, sportsbook director for The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

• Underdogs went (11-4) against the spread with eight outright wins Sunday.

• "We had a tremendous weekend," bookmaker John Murray of the SuperBook in Las Vegas said.

• The Saints' 38-3 drubbing of the favored Packers was the best game of the day for multiple sportsbooks. In Nevada, after an up-and-down morning slate, MGM director of trading Jeff Stoneback said his shop won enough money on the Saints to solidify a winning day regardless of the rest of the day's results, which included a big decision on Bears-Rams.

"We're going to knock off 90% of the parlays bet on that game, 90% of the teasers on it," Stoneback said Sunday as the Saints were salting away the heavily-bet Packers. "This is huge for us."

• Packers-Saints was the most-bet game of the day at BetRivers sportsbooks, with Green Bay attracting 86% of the money wagered on the point spread and 90% of the dollars staked on the money-line. There was more money on the Packers' spread at BetRivers than any other bet on the board all day "by a fairly significant margin, too," the book said.

• The game featured up-and-down point spread movement throughout the Aaron Rodgers summer saga. The Saints went from 3-point favorites to 3-point underdogs when Rodgers took his talents and man-bun back to Green Bay. The line grew to Packers -4 last week, before closing at a consensus 3.5.

The Saints covered the spread by 38.5 points.

• The game was relocated from New Orleans to Jacksonville due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which increased the action on the Packers at sportsbook PointsBet. Before the game was moved, 75% of the handle that had been wagered was on Green Bay. After the change, 80% of the money was on the Packers. The Saints' winning produced the biggest win of the day for PointsBet.

• Some sportsbooks refunded all bets placed prior to the change of location, per house rules. PointsBet gave bettors the option of choosing to void their bet if it was placed prior to the change.

• The Lions' late rally against the 49ers was another gut punch for bettors. For weeks, bookmakers had been highlighting the betting interest on San Francisco or perhaps the disinterest in Detroit. The line grew from 49ers -7 to -9.5 last week, as money poured in on San Fran.

The 49ers led by 28 midway through the third quarter, only to get outscored 21-3 the rest of the way. They settled for a 41-33 win, with the eight-point margin pushing a lot of bets that seemed like easy winners for much of the game. At BetRivers, 83% of the money bet on the spread was on the Niners, the bulk of it at -8.

• The Borgata, which is known to accept big wagers, reported taking five six-figure bets on Sunday's games.

$220,000 on the Browns +8 second half. (L)
$110,000 on the Colts +2.5. (L)
$110,000 on the Packers -3.5 (L)
$110,000 on over 28 on second half of Browns-Chiefs (W)
$100,000 on under 46 Bears-Rams (L)

• With Dallas trailing Tampa Bay 21-16 at halftime of Thursday's opening thriller, a bettor at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas placed a $500,000 bet on Dallas +2.5 (-120) in the second half. The bettor won $416,666.65 after the Cowboys outscored the Bucs 13-10 in the second half.

• The SuperBook said the Steelers' upset of the Bills produced its biggest win of Sunday, followed the Saints' upset of the Packers.

• The story was different at DraftKings, which operates in Pennsylvania: "We had quite a bit of money on the Pittsburgh money and the Eagles moneyline," Johnny Avello, sportsbook director for DraftKings, said. "Those two games kind of stung."

Overall, though, when asked how DraftKings did on the day, Avello said, "It should turn out real well."

• Bettors did get a little bit of a late lift with the Rams winning and covering against the Bears in a game that went over the total. Murray of the SuperBook said the result was "very, very bad."

• The largest bet BetMGM in Nevada took on Sunday was $400,000 on the Rams -8 against the Bears, according to Stoneback.

• As of Sunday, there were eight times as many bets on the Raiders as there were on the Ravens at MGM sportsbooks in Nevada. The Ravens are 4-point favorites over the Raiders in the Monday night game. The total is 50.5.

College football

• Notable opening lines via Circa Sports in Las Vegas:

Michigan State at Miami, Fla. -8, 56.5
Nebraska at Oklahoma -23, 64.5
Cincinnati -4, 46.5 at Indiana
Purdue at Notre Dame -8, 60.5
Georgia Tech at Clemson -29, 57.5
Alabama -15, 54.5 at Florida
Tulsa at Ohio State -31, 64.5
South Carolina at Georgia -32, 52.5
Auburn at Penn State -7, 56.5

• Oregon's outright win over Ohio State as a 14.5-point underdog produced the third-biggest win of any game of the weekend at the SuperBook, including NFL. "Saturday was the best Saturday any of us can remember," Murray of the SuperBook said.

• Michigan winning and covering against Washington 31-10 produced the SuperBook's largest loss on a single game of the weekend.

• National title odds moves via Caesars Sportsbook:

Ohio State: 11-2 to 17-2 (lost to Oregon)
Oregon: 60-1 to 25-1 (beat Ohio State)
Iowa: 100-1 to 75-1
Texas: 50-1 to 150-1

• Jacksonville State beat Florida State as a 28-point underdog on Saturday night. The Seminoles were 97-0 straight-up when favored by 27 or more points since 1978, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

• A bettor with New Jersey sportsbook Tipico placed a $1,000 money-line bet on Boston College to defeat UMass at -100,000 odds. The bettor won a net $1, when the Eagles took down the Minutemen 45-28 on Saturday.

What were the odds?

• Cristiano Ronaldo was a -225 favorite to score in his first game since returning to Manchester United on Saturday. Ronaldo scored twice in Man U's 4-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday.

• US Open women's champ Emma Raducano opened at 100-1 to win the title at Caesars Sportsbook.

• Former UFC champion Vitor Belfort was around a -240 favorite over 58-year-old Evander Holyfield in a light heavyweight bout Saturday. Belfort, 44, stopped Holyfield in the first round.