V broadcasts, on either ESPN/ABC or Fox/Fox Sports 1, will include betting lines during XFL football games.
ESPN and ABC will have the lines listed on the "score bug" at the bottom of the screen, according to Front Office Sports. Fox Sports spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi told USA Today Sports lines won't be as prominent on its broadcasts, but they will be shown during lead-ins and outros after teams score.
Additionally, announcers are free to discuss gambling, which is not the case with NFL broadcasts just yet. "We aren’t forcing it, though," Fegyveresi said. "If our announcers are comfortable with it and want to discuss it, they can do so. It’ll be more organic." The games began Saturday, when the DC Defenders hosted the Seattle Dragons.
“Will we mention late in the game that if, say, Washington is up by 2 points and they kick a field goal, will that cover the point spread? I think we will do that,” said Lee Fitting, ESPN's senior vice president of production, according to Crain’s New York Business. “The mantra is you take gambling and point spreads into account while making sure you don't turn off those who don't gamble and don't know the lingo. It's a fine line to walk.”
The networks will not update odds or betting totals as the games progress, but may consider doing so later in the season, depending on how things go, Fitting said.
"We are bringing a spirit of innovation to our game and fan experience, and our television partners share this approach," XFL president and COO Jeffrey Pollack said in a statement. "We want what our fans want, and many of our fans enjoy legal betting on football. Integrating the point spreads and betting lines into our broadcasts will create a more robust viewing experience that deepens our fan engagement and connectivity."
“We are embracing the spread from the start," Pollack said about sports betting. "This is a core business strategy for the XFL. We understand that for a lot of our fans, betting on the games has become as essential to the game experience as the helmet, ball and jerseys. That’s what we’re gearing up to provide. Our mission and our infrastructure are geared to the sports betting future that is coming fast. There are incredible opportunities.”
So far, gambling regulators in at least nine states have approved wagering on XFL games: New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New York, Iowa, Indiana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. The revived league is owned by wrestling entrepreneur Vince McMahon.
The XFL brought its Los Angeles franchise, the Wildcats, to Las Vegas for a mini-camp in December so that sportsbook executives could familiarize themselves with the team, the league and its products, which differ in some major ways from the NFL. XFL-specific rules include the option to seek 1, 2 or 3 points from the 2-, 5- or 10-yard line after scoring a touchdown. The XFL will also allow a team to throw two forward passes on the same play as long as both happen behind the line of scrimmage.
Scott Butera, president of interactive gaming for MGM Resorts International, and a former commissioner of the Arena Football League, said his company has familiarized itself enough with the league to offer betting on its games in Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia. That included meetings with league commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck.
“We know the XFL, we know Vince very well and he's a leader in sports entertainment,” Butera said. “They're ready to embrace sports betting in their rules. It should be a high-scoring league, with some props.”
Like many professional leagues, the XFL is making deals with third parties to help monetize sports betting and guarantee the integrity of betting on its games. The league has already announced deals with Champion Sports Data to compile and disseminate official league data, and with Genius Sports for betting integrity monitoring. On Wednesday it announced a deal with DraftKings, which will become an authorized gambling operator and a daily fantasy sports partner.
The league also hopes to get fans used to betting on its product even in states where real-money gambling is not yet legal by offering free-to-play contests through an app in all 50 states. The eight-team league will have its championship game in April. It has franchises in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington.