How to Bet on Sports Drafts

Professional sports leagues aim to be involved in the conversation all year round. The biggest fans will keep tabs on their preferred league no matter what the calendar says, but grabbing the attention of more casual watchers during the offseason is a goal, as well. For the NBA and NFL, one offseason highlight is each league’s amateur draft.

Wagering on these drafts has grown as legal sports betting continues to expand into more states, now with Arizona. Betting on drafts can add more excitement to an already fun event and help increase viewership among some of the more casual fans of the particular sport.

This page will cover the basics of betting on drafts, which sportsbooks to use, and information on the NFL and NBA drafts.

Can you bet on the draft in Arizona?

Arizona recently passed sports betting legislation, and yes, you can wager on the NFL and NBA drafts. In May 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, also known as PASPA. Each state is now allowed to regulate sports betting inside its borders. Some states were aggressive in launching sports wagering, while others may never participate in the activity.

Choosing a sportsbook that offers draft betting

To sign up for a sportsbook, be sure to do your research and decide what is most important to you as a bettor. To register, you’ll need to be 21 or older in Arizona. Some common details sportsbooks will ask for during the sign-up process are your date of birth, email address, legal name, mailing address and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Once you’ve signed up, you can add money to your sports betting account and claim any welcome bonuses to get started. Competition is high among the various sportsbooks as they look to attract new users to their platforms, so they will offer perks to lure in as many people as possible. This is good news for sports bettors, including those looking to bet on the draft.

Best sports draft betting apps in AZ

It is difficult to go wrong when deciding among the various legal sportsbook options. Each one will have its own pros and cons. The most important item you will need to ensure is that the sportsbook you ultimately choose is a legal, regulated operation and not an offshore sportsbook. Here are three of the top legal online sportsbooks, with a brief overview of each.

  • DraftKings app: One of the giants in daily fantasy sports, DraftKings Sportsbook has also become a major player in sports betting. The app offers a slick, easy-to-use interface designed to enhance the user experience.
  • FanDuel app: Like DraftKings, FanDuel Sportsbook got its start in DFS and has expanded to become one of the biggest legal sportsbooks in the country. FanDuel offers a variety of live betting options and features, and the app is very user friendly for bettors regardless of experience level.
  • BetMGM app: A popular casino brand that ventured into sports betting, BetMGM Sportsbook is positioning itself to be one of the powers of the industry. The app is easy to navigate, so bettors can find the items they’d like to wager on quickly, and it offers a catalog of live streaming broadcasts for select games.

If you want, you can open accounts at multiple sportsbooks. This will let you benefit from all the best bonuses and promotions. Additionally, you can shop for the best odds for any wagers you want to place.

Understanding draft odds

If you are new to sports betting or need a quick refresher on understanding sports betting odds, we’ll take a look using the NFL draft as an example. Let’s say a sportsbook released NFL odds for the position the Arizona Cardinals will select with their first pick. Here is what this might look like:

  • Cornerback -200
  • Wide receiver +200
  • Linebacker +500
  • Running back +500
  • Offensive lineman +700
  • Defensive lineman +1100
  • Safety +5000
  • Tight end +6000
  • Quarterback +10000

The option with the smallest number will be the favorite, which in this case would be cornerback at -200, as that is where oddsmakers project the Cardinals will go in the first round. On the opposite end, the largest number is quarterback at +10000, which is the biggest underdog wager in this scenario, meaning oddsmakers suggest it is highly unlikely Arizona will go with a QB with pick No. 1.

So how do we calculate this? It’s easiest to understand American odds like this using $100 as a benchmark. For any number with a minus sign in front of it, you would need to bet that amount to collect a $100 profit on a winning bet. If cornerback is getting -200 odds, that means a $200 wager on cornerback would net a $100 profit if that is where the Cardinals go with their first pick. Because cornerback is the betting favorite according to oddsmakers, the payout is going to be lower than the rest.

For numbers with a plus sign in front, that is the amount of profit you would receive on a successful $100 bet. If you believe the Cardinals will pick a running back at +500 odds, a $100 wager would net you $500. The payout will be larger the farther down the odds list you go.

Common bets available for drafts

The number of betting options is increasing as sportsbooks become more creative in what they offer. Below are some of the potential bets you will see for draft day:

  • First overall pick: A large part of the discussion heading into a draft is which player will go No. 1 overall. You can place wagers on this leading up to draft day.
  • Team first pick: Each team might have odds on a select group of players who might fall to that team in the first round.
  • First position: There will be several chances to wager on which positions will go first during the draft.
  • Team first position: Like the above example with the Cardinals, each franchise will likely have odds for the position they will pick first.
  • Over/under: Sportsbooks may offer odds on individual players and set a number at 9.5 for example. You can then wager whether the player will go before or after that projection.

Prop bets on drafts

Along with the options above, sportsbooks may offer an additional selection of prop bets. Below are some of the options that may be available:

  • First player selected at position: This is likely to be available for just about every position. You can wager on which quarterback, running back, wide receiver, etc., will be drafted first.
  • Number of players at each position: You may be able to wager on how many players will be selected at a certain position during the first round.
  • Players drafted by year in school: The NBA draft could have a bet that lets you wager on how many college freshmen will be picked, for instance.
  • International players drafted: Another basketball prop is wagering on the number of foreign-born players in Round 1.

Tips for betting on the draft

You can develop your own strategy for betting on the draft over time, but here are some quick tips heading into the next draft:

  • Pick bets with two outcomes: More often than not, you are likely going to have a much better chance at long-term success when you are wagering on a bet that has just two outcomes. For instance, the over/under on where a certain player will go in the draft. Trying to predict the exact position a team will select with its first round pick will likely have a higher potential payout, but with so many options, a wager like this is much more difficult to win.
  • Do your homework: This goes for any wager, but there is a ton of information available no matter what draft you are betting on. Get your research in before placing any wager. Be sure to identify team needs and the franchise’s previous draft history to see if you can identify some trends.
  • Stay away from heavy favorites: The No. 1 overall pick may leak prior to the start of the NFL draft, so you would need to risk a significant amount of money for any significant return for a bet like this. DraftKings had Trevor Lawrence going No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL draft with -10000 odds, which means a $100 bet would net a $1 profit.
  • Stay away from heavy underdogs: On the other hand, wagering on an outcome that would be stunning to see is not a smart bet either, even though the payout would be huge with a winning bet. The Cardinals received +10000 odds to pick a quarterback with their first round selection in 2021. A $100 bet would’ve netted a $10,000 profit if this happened, but it was so unlikely since Arizona already has Kyler Murray that it is likely not worth wagering on.

Live draft betting

Sports bettors no longer have to get their wagers in prior to the start of an event, and that is because of live betting. With live betting, you can place bets after an event has started. Numbers will shift rapidly based on the latest news and information during the draft, so bettors have to be quick in getting their wagers in at the best possible time to maximize value.

NFL draft

The NFL is king for just about anything in the sports betting space in the United States, and the draft is no different. It is the most viewed draft on the sports calendar, and the volume of wagers on the event is increasing as more states legalize sports betting.

How the NFL draft works

The NFL draft consists of three days and seven rounds involving all 32 franchises. The previous season’s results determine the draft order, with the worst teams picking at the top of the draft and the best selecting toward the end. The worst team in the NFL will get the No. 1 pick of each round, while the team that won the Super Bowl will receive the No. 32 pick of each round.

Additionally, teams may receive compensatory picks for free agents they lost during the offseason. These picks are awarded at the end of the third round through the end of the seventh round. There is also a supplemental draft for players whose eligibility had changed since the NFL Draft. Teams may bid for these players by telling the league which round they would take a specific player. The team that wins the bidding process gets the player but loses the pick in the round they selected the player the next season.

Franchises may decide to use draft picks in trades for players or to move up or down in the draft.

When/where is the NFL draft?

  • Dates: April 28 to April 30, 2022
  • Location: Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas
  • Time: TBD
  • TV coverage: ESPN, ABC, NFL Network

NFL draft trends

  • Quarterbacks go No. 1: A quarterback has been the No. 1 overall pick in each of the last four drafts and in six of the last seven.
  • SEC dominates: The SEC had 65 players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, which was the highest ever for a conference. The SEC also has the second, third and fourth most players to go in a single draft.
  • Running backs are less valued: In the last three drafts, zero running backs have gone higher than No. 24 overall.

NBA draft

The NBA draft also attracts a lot of attention, and it offers a variety of NBA wagers.

How the NBA draft works

The NBA draft is a one-night event that features two rounds with 60 selections overall. The draft order is a bit different as the 14 teams that missed the playoffs will take part in a lottery, with the worst teams receiving the best chance of getting the top pick. The rest of the teams fill out the order according to the previous season’s results, with the worst playoff teams picking earlier and the champion picking last. Teams may trade draft picks for players or to move up or down in the draft.

When/where is the NBA draft?

  • Dates: July 29, 2021
  • Location: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
  • Time: TBD
  • TV coverage: ESPN, ABC

NBA draft trends

  • Freshmen go No. 1: A college freshman has been the No. 1 overall choice in each of the last 11 drafts.
  • Nationality of the top pick: A player born outside of the United States has gone No. 1 overall in four of the last eight drafts.
  • Bluebloods dominate draft: Kentucky has had 54 players selected in the first round, followed by North Carolina (52) and Duke (48).