June 6, 2019 | By Tim Poole
When Johnny Avello left Wynn Resorts for DraftKings to head the operator’s sportsbook, the NBA Finals would no doubt have been earmarked on his company calendar.
"Wagering has been stellar for the Finals so far and we didn’t expect anything less," he tells Gaming America three games into the seven-match series.
The culmination of the US basketball season, the NBA Finals currently sees Toronto Raptors lead Golden State Warriors 2-1. The series is very different however, when compared to the finale of the American football season.
Avello explains: "These two in comparison, for wagering purposes, couldn’t be farther apart. It’s one game for all the marbles vs a best of seven with ongoing adjustments.
"That pertains to both the teams and the linemakers, so there are a lot of shifts occuring from game to game during The Finals that just wouldn’t happen during the Super Bowl."
Still, despite the global attention the NBA Finals will undoubtedly receive, it cannot quite compare to March Madness from a gambling standpoint.
The 64-team NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament may not contain the highest-profile players in world basketball but, as Avello explains, the college competition produces both unpredictability and sheer volume.
"There is very little that compares to the first week of March Madness, plain and simple," he says.
"The attention on those games is so different, plus the unpredictable outcomes of March Madness give a randomness we don’t often see in the NBA."
Basketball is a crucial component of the DraftKings portfolio, both in terms of daily fantasy sports and sports wagering.
Considering the amount of games played within the NBA – and during March Madness alone – it’s no surprise the sport comprises a large chunk of handle and revenue for the operator.
Avello remarks: "It’s hard to give a figure because we haven’t gone through a full year cycle of sports but, typically, all basketball combined could be anywhere from 25 to 35 percent."
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