Sports Betting News And Insights With Johnny Avello, June 9, 2022

Written By Dave Bontempo on June 9, 2022

There has been a resurgence in New York Rangers hockey betting interest as they reach the tail end of the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup semifinals.

It  raises the  question of where Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils gambling totals might be if the teams performed better.

We caught up with Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, to obtain his insights.

Avello believes something unique has happened to the New Jersey hockey betting market. The Flyers and Devils have declined in an age when hockey betting rises. And as a result, it’s taking a toll on the interest.

“What happens is that fans want to bet these teams, but they can’t. Even if they think they should bet the other way, they just don’t want to do it. They want to root for these teams,” Avello said.

“Philly was just awful this year. The team has really been struggling. When you add injuries to this, that makes it even more difficult. The Devils were kind of  the same way.  These teams are ending up with point totals in the 60s.

“In other sports, you  may have fans simply bet on what they think the outcome is, but in hockey, we are seeing that the fans don’t want to go against their teams.”

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When Flyers start winning, Avello sees ‘big uptick’ coming in sports betting

After starting 6-2-2 in their first 10 games, the Flyers went 19-44-9.

Keep in mind the final record includes several losing streaks ranging between six and 13 games:

  • 13 games (0-10-3) from Dec. 30 to Jan. 25
  • 10 games (0-8-2) through Nov. 18 to Dec. 8
  • Six games between Feb. 9-22 (0-4-2)
  • Six games from April 9-19 (0-6-0).

The Flyers and Devils had 52 combined wins. It matches the regularseason total for the Rangers (52-24-6).

Whenever the cycle  reverses, the Flyers and their fans may discover something, however.  The NJ mobile sports betting tidal wave era awaits them becoming a top team again.

And with New Jersey and Pennsylvania both being “good betting states” for DraftKings, Avello foresees a significant hockey betting handle uptick eventually coming.

“When  the Flyers get better again, and  they will, I am confident you will see a big uptick in their sports action. Maybe even 50%, if they can get as far as the Rangers have this year. But at a minimum, you would probably see at least 25%,” Avello said.

The impact of New York Rangers Stanley Cup run

The Rangers have provided a successful case for that formula.

This is  the first time the Rangers have been widely bet in the post PASPA era. And it matches  the first time they have been good.

The Rangers finished the regular season with 110 points and then won playoff rounds against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes. And both series went seven games.

The Rangers will play at least 20 postseason games.

“We took action on them at the beginning of the season and once people realized the season they were having, we got a lot of action,” Avello said. “We have received so much interest in the Rangers that they are actually a hazard for us now.

“In the middle of the Carolina series, when it looked like they would not win it, you could get 30-1 (+3000) on them.”

Bettors have substantial futures options, ranging from futures to individual games.

What draws NJ sports bettors to NHL odds

So the 2021-22 NHL betting season is down to its final three teams. The Colorado Avalanche are the Western Conference champs.

And they will play either the Lightning or Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals.

As far as the overall attraction to NHL markets go, Avello points out a couple factors.

One is “some bettors are homers and they are going to bet their teams because they can then watch on TV.

He said “others look for spots.”

Spots being a favorable price at the book that matches their perception of the outcome.

“I’ll tell you what else has been popular. Bettors love these in-game props like the next goal, power-play points, first scorer, anytime scorer, even the exact final score. And  you might do something in-game. Say a team is up two goals in the third period. You take them -2.5 and hope they get an empty netter,” Avello said.

Oh yes, the final score. Some New Jersey bettors were sitting on a +1700 goldmine for an exact  3-1 Tampa Bay victory over the Rangers in Game 4. It was scuttled by an empty net goal with just nine seconds remaining.

The prop bets indicate that, in Avello’s words, “the books are doing all we can” to elevate the betting profile of hockey. Avello believes the teams can do more at the games to raise the interest level of their sport.

“You go to a Golden Knights game here in Las Vegas and it’s almost like a show you would see on the Strip,” he said of Vegas’ high-energy casino shows. “Everything they do brings more excitement to the game the people are at. I think if people have that type of excitement, you are going to score some more hockey handle.”

Stanley Cup betting versus NFL and March Madness

Avello considers hockey to be on an upward path.

It doesn’t rival the NFL, college football, the NBA or college hoops, but it has a good niche on certain nights. He believes some hockey games reach the level of the book’s top baseball game on occasion.

Avello believes the league has also helped itself by being positioned on a playoff island. Much of its final round will occur after the NBA Finals are completed.

Hockey can join baseball as a betting-revenue producer.“I hope they keep doing things this way,” he said. “What’s especially helpful for hockey is that the NBA spaces its games out. Between NBA games, you may have two hockey series’ going and you might get four games in while the NBA has no action.

“This is great for hockey.”


Photo by AP/Chris O’Meara
Dave Bontempo Avatar
Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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