The start of the NFL season took center stage in the sports and gambling worlds this weekend, but there is a little-known football (American football) league launching right after the NFL’s season ends in February: the Alliance of American Football (AAF). And according to an ESPN.com report, the league has embraced gambling in a way no other professional sports league in the United States has.
As mentioned, the AAF will begin its 12-week season in February and will have its championship game the last weekend in April. The inaugural season will have teams in eight cities, generally serving the southeast and southwest regions of the United States: Atlanta, Orlando, Memphis, Birmingham, San Antonio, Phoenix, San Diego, and Salt Lake City (Salt Lake City is obviously a bit of an outlier, but I was generalizing and at least it’s in the west).
The league isn’t competing with the NFL, but is rather trying to give football fans more of the sport they love when the NFL is in its offseason. The head coaches all have loads of experience in the NFL and college, names like Steve Spurrier, Brad Childress, Mike Martz, and Rick Neuheisel. The players are all going to be men who had strong college careers but were unable to make an NFL team or perhaps played a short time in the NFL.
According to the ESPN.com report, the AAF has developed its own mobile betting app that will let fans watch the games and place live bets right on the screen. The system will also continuously gather and analyze data to adjust odds on the fly.
Though the league developed the app, it is MGM that be the gaming operator, as it has a gambling licenses in multiple states. MGM has a three-year deal with the AAF to be its exclusive in-game gaming partner.
The AAF is taking live betting a step further. It will actually put “wearables,” or essentially trackers (a Fitbit, for example, is a wearable), on the players to collect real-time information on what the players are actually physically doing. Charlie Ebersol, one of the league’s co-founders, gave the example of the wearable device measuring a quarterback’s throwing speed, using that to calculate the changing probability of an interception, and adjusting live odds accordingly. Gamblers will even be able to bet on what the ball speed will be. I told you the AAF is embracing gambling.
The league is banking on the live betting helping drive interest in the league. It will also give players larger paychecks based on how often they are the subject of prop bets.
The AAF’s app will also have a fantasy football game that sounds like it won’t be played for real money, as anyone, no matter their age, will be allowed to play. That product will be operated by a different fantasy sports company, though it will still be run on the league’s app.