Upstart leagues in American football tend to all follow the same trajectory. They begin with massive hype and fanfare, draw big Week 1 television ratings thanks to curious fans tuning in, and manage to flourish for a very brief period of time. After that, mediocrity on the field and football-fatigue among the public leads to a steep decline in ratings and betting action, and eventually the end of the organization. It happened to the USFL, it happened to the World Football League, and it happened again to Vince McMahon’s XFL.
The soon-to-debut Alliance of American Football seems to be taking a different route, for better or for worse. At least as far as Las Vegas is concerned.
Betting lines for the AAF are almost non-existent on the internet as of Thursday morning, just 2 days before the AAF season kicks off. Not only is there a lack of AAF point spreads and moneylines (and futures) at Bovada Sportsbook, MyBookie, BetOnline and other giants of online sports gambling, very few publications are even taking the time to preview the opening round of games.
It is almost as if the AAF is hiding from the media…or perhaps the media is hiding from the AAF. A press release in September promised live-betting innovations through the league’s partners at MGM, but there have been almost zero follow-up stories, and interest in gambling on the league’s games is so narrow that bookies don’t want to take a chance on an unknown.
“Lines will certainly be softer early in the season when there is no real data or past history,” BetDSI analyst Jacob Crossman told Sportsline.com earlier this week. “We are expecting the odds to be very similar to what we generally see in the NFL preseason for at least the first couple weeks, as no one wants to take the chance of making a team a big favorite when there are so many unknowns.”
Apart from the lines from MGM’s betting app and a few outliers among offshore sportsbooks, it is unclear which odds Crossman is even referring to. Perhaps Bovada and other big-shots are waiting for the opening week’s worth of games to determine exactly how to set point spreads for the AAF. But that doesn’t explain the lack of futures odds, or the fact that BetOnline’s “football” section is currently inaccessible to browsers.
The organization also has very little online presence and is clearly struggling to keep up with the promotional demands of pro football. The supposed “AAF schedule” page on the league’s official website only brings up an error message despite the opening kickoff being just over 48 hours away.
ln case the AAF still plans to play the games, this Saturday night’s match-ups are rumored to include Steve Spurrier’s Orlando Apollos taking on the Atlanta Legends at Camping World Stadium.
Photo from YouTube.