Each week, our “What’s on Tap” series previews the week ahead in the world of sports betting. Come here for a summary of upcoming financial happenings, legislative and regulatory meetings, industry conferences, top games scheduled for the week, and much more. Also, check out our weekly review “Get a Grip” for a look back at last week’s notable news.
Monday, February 27
MGC meets as launch of online sports betting nears
Last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) approved temporary licenses for nine digital sports betting operators, including Caesars Sportsbook, Barstool Sportsbook, and WynnBET, among others. One sportsbook operator, Betway, informed the MGC that it does not plan to launch at any point in 2023. Stakeholders may receive further information on Betway’s licensing application and other details surrounding the rollout of online sports wagering at Monday’s meeting. Massachusetts is set to go live with online sports betting on March 10, ahead of the NCAA Tournament.
Conference tourney season starts with A-Sun prelims
The build to March Madness begins in February with two preliminary-round games in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. The A-Sun finals are scheduled for Sunday on the home court of the highest remaining seed.
Only three years ago, Kennesaw State failed to qualify for the conference tournament after finishing 1-28 on the campaign. But under fourth-year coach Amir Abdur-Rahim, Kennesaw has completed a massive turnaround.
With two wins this week, the Owls will host the A-Sun finals. Liberty, which shared the regular-season title, is favored at FanDuel (-220) to capture the conference tournament. Kennesaw State is the second choice at +400, followed by Lipscomb, Stetson, and Eastern Kentucky, which each have odds of +1500. During this week, 15 conferences will begin postseason tournament play.
Amir Abdur-Rahim has officially engineered one of the most impressive turnarounds in mid-major college basketball. Kennesaw State won a combined six games in his first two seasons. It now sits in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun after tonight's win over Liberty.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 17, 2023
Tuesday, February 28
Report: Bears shopping No. 1 pick at NFL Draft Combine
On the eve of the 2023 NFL Draft Combine, reports surfaced that the Chicago Bears have received multiple offers for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. With the Texans, Colts, Raiders, Panthers, and Bucs all seeking a starting quarterback, the Bears may benefit from a bidding war for the pick. The Bears are leaning toward dealing the pick, ESPN reported on Monday.
At FOX Bet, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young has odds of -143 to be selected with the first overall pick. Young is followed by Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud and Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, who have odds of +320 and +600, respectively. Richardson, who has been compared to Cam Newton for his dual-threat capabilities, is viewed as a wild card of the 2023 draft class.
Sources: The Bears already have been approached by multiple teams about trading the draft’s No. 1 overall pick, and Chicago is said to be “leaning toward” moving the pick. So the No. 1 pick now looks like it’s for sale. pic.twitter.com/2w03L6qP0L
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 27, 2023
Ohio set to release first month sports betting figures
A host of sportsbook operators reported record opening-day figures in Ohio on New Year’s Day when the Buckeye State launched sports betting. The market will receive further indications on how Ohio performed in January when the Ohio Casino Control Commission releases opening month figures. Industry analysts will home in on promotional intensity for a gauge on wagering volume after an initial onslaught of first-time deposits. The state is also expected to receive a boost from the Bengals’ run to the AFC Championship game.
Wednesday, March 1
Problem Gambling Awareness Month begins
BetMGM announced an initiative last week to feature responsible gambling messages in its marketing and advertising campaigns. The initiative begins on Wednesday, in conjunction with the start of Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
In Massachusetts, BetMGM will partner with gaming platform GameSense, which is focused on positive and transparent conversations with players on how to gamble responsibly. Responsible gambling experts also have their eyes on an impending white paper in the U.K., which is set to be released in March and may set standards on deposit limits and propose guidelines on affordability checks.
Potential Durant debut with the Suns
When the Phoenix Suns acquired former NBA MVP Kevin Durant at the trade deadline, the move instantly vaulted the Suns into position as the top title contender from the Western Conference. While Durant missed Sunday’s nationally televised game against the Bucks, he is targeting Wednesday’s matchup against the Hornets for his debut with the Suns, The Athletic reported.
The Suns have odds of +240 at BetMGM to win the West, slightly ahead of the Nuggets, the second choice at +350. The Clippers, the third choice at +500, signed nine-time All-Star guard Russell Westbrook last week. Westbrook scored 17 in his Clippers debut Friday. The Celtics remain the favorites at BetMGM to win the NBA championship, with odds of +300.
Kevin Durant won’t suit up for the Suns today, but the 4-time scoring champ looks unencumbered in shootaround #WeAreTheValley pic.twitter.com/iw5nQcqW8Y
— Dylan Hunter Carter (@DylanHCarter) February 26, 2023
Saturday, March 4
UNC looks to bolster at-large chances against rival Duke
North Carolina may have notched a season-saving victory over then-No. 6 Virginia on Saturday night, with a breakout performance from Pete Nance in a 71-63 win. Despite the victory, the Tar Heels remain among the first teams out in various “Bracketology” forecasts. North Carolina is in danger of becoming the first preseason No. 1 in the history of the AP poll to fail to make the NCAA Tournament.
Last year's NCAA Tournament finalists earned a season-saving win with help from… lemon Oreos?
We can explain. https://t.co/Lzi5zz6TDc
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 26, 2023
The Tar Heels (18-10) can impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee on Saturday night with a victory over archrival Duke. The Blue Devils, who start four freshmen, defeated UNC by six on Feb. 4. Winner of four straight, Duke continues to mature heading into the final regular-season game for both teams.
The Tar Heels defeated the Blue Devils last March in the Final Four to end Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career. At DraftKings, Duke has odds of +1100 to return to the Final Four, while North Carolina is +1200 to earn a spot in the national semifinals.
Sunday, March 5
Formula 1 season begins in Bahrain
In the storied history of Formula 1, only four drivers have won the Drivers’ Championship in three consecutive years. At just 25 years of age, Max Verstappen can become the fifth with a title in 2023. Verstappen kicks off the F1 season on Sunday with the Bahrain Grand Prix, a race he has never won. Still, Verstappen is the heavy -115 favorite at PointsBet to capture the season’s first race. Charles Leclerc, last year’s winner, is the second choice at +360.
Verstappen has odds of -150 at PointsBet to complete the three-peat. Formula 1 will come to Las Vegas in November for the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, the penultimate event on the 2023 schedule. Several major casino companies have already projected a considerable revenue spike in November due to the race.