First College Football Betting Weekend Was A Touchdown For Sportsbooks

Written By Juan Carlos Blanco on September 7, 2018 - Last Updated on July 6, 2022
First College Football Betting Weekend Was A Touchdown For Sportsbooks

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It seems like ever since the Supreme Court tossed out the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 on May 14, sports betting enthusiasts and operators alike have been uttering a common mantra – “just wait ‘till football season.”

The pigskin portion of the sports calendar is naturally always a highly anticipated one in Nevada. To the delight of bettors in an increasing number of states, it’s got a little extra oomph for them this year as well.

College football sportsbook betting a boon for multiple states

The “new normal” in New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia and Delaware means an open door for visitors and residents of those states to legally plunk down cash on the NCAA and NFL this fall.

Predictably, the excitement was especially palpable in the two college hotbeds of that group.

West Virginia

An official from the Mountain State’s state lottery, which oversees sports betting, helped enumerate exactly how prolific a first day it was at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races a total of $340,000 in handle on Saturday alone. By the end of the weekend, that already-impressive figure had seen a nice boost, to more than $600K.

Erich Zimny, Hollywood Casino’s vice president of racing & sports operations, expressed satisfaction with how the weekend unfolded at his facility. It went beyond the impressive monetary figures though. The makeup of the crowd ranged from curious visitors looking to casually sample the product to much sharper players, which was an was encouraging mix. More from WUSA:

“We had a lot of folks waiting for this to be legalized so they could come here and wager as opposed to going to Las Vegas,” Zimny said. “You had your recreational players, you had your casual fans, but you definitely had some serious bettors, as well. So we were happy with the mix.”


Meanwhile the Magnolia State of Mississippi, which is the Southeast’s only jurisdiction where one can place some above-board action on sports, was the scene of more frenzy. Biloxi’s Imperial Palace Casino boasted a separate betting sheet just for SEC football – a testament to the level of both local and out-of-state interest in the conference alone.

You read correctly. With the state serving as the only proverbial oasis in the sports betting desert of the Deep South, the state’s casinos reportedly hosted plenty of visitors from neighboring states with Florida online sports betting non-existent, and the same state of play in Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama this past weekend.

And quite a profitable weekend it apparently was, as evidenced by a tweet from David Purdum of ESPN relaying a text from a Mississippi sportsbook operator:


New Jersey enjoys eventful holiday weekend, too

And while New Jersey is the second-most tenured state of the group (behind Delaware) in terms of how long single-game sports betting has been up and running, this past weekend still featured a couple of firsts – both FanDuel Sportsbook and William Hill US sportsbook apps were rolled out just in the nick of time for the first big Saturday of the 2018 college season.

Additionally, the Garden State saw another betting destination open its doors before the week was out: the $6 million, 7500-square-foot sportsbook at Ocean Resort Casino debuted Thursday, just in time for the Falcons-Eagles NFL opener and a couple of days ahead of another full Saturday of college games.

Upcoming months could have long-lasting effects

If early returns are any indication, the next several months will be vastly rewarding for both the present and future of legalized sports betting.

Existing sportsbooks will clearly enjoy brisk business. That much appears certain based on just one big day of football. And think of what lays ahead:

  • NFL Week 1 this coming Sunday
  • The remainder of both college and pro regular seasons
  • College bowl season in December and early January
  • And of course, the crown jewel to cap it all off – Super Bowl LIII

And the benefits will extend beyond the first Sunday in February. With five month’s worth of what should be impressive handle and revenue in the books at that point, supporters in states considering legalization during 2019 legislative sessions will undoubtedly be that much closer to the goal line.

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Juan Carlos Blanco

Juan Carlos Blanco has served as a freelance writer for a wide variety of online publications and websites, with an intensive focus on fantasy sports. An avid daily fantasy sports player himself, he’s provided analysis and comprehensive coverage of the MLB, NBA, NFL and CFL, while also reporting on news and developments in the daily fantasy sports and online gaming industries.

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