Canadian Teams Dominating National Lacrosse League Futures Odds

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation is gambling on the NLL becoming more popular with local bettors
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After a one-season hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Lacrosse League is finally back.

The new season gets underway Friday night in San Diego with a clash between the Vancouver Warriors and hometown Seals, and is followed by six more contests around the league Saturday.

After the 2020-21 season was canceled due to the pandemic, sports bettors now have a ton of catching up to do with their handicapping. So, here’s a look at the outright odds, courtesy of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation Pro-Line:

  • Saskatchewan +450
  • Halifax +500
  • Toronto +550
  • San Diego +650
  • Buffalo +850
  • Philadelphia +850
  • Georgia +1700
  • Colorado +1800
  • Albany +1900
  • Vancouver +2500
  • Calgary +3700
  • Rochester +7400
  • New York +10200
  • Panther City +18000

Three Canadian teams — Saskatchewan Rush, Halifax Thunderbirds, and Toronto Rock — sit with the highest odds to claim the National Lacrosse League Cup. Vancouver and Calgary round out the Canadian contingent, sitting well back as longshots.

ALC Sports Betting Manager Greg Eagles agonized over setting the outright odds this year.

“Very difficult,” Eagles said when asked about how he’s handicapping the league after the COVID layoff. “There has been a lot of player movement, an expansion [Panther City, in Fort Worth, Texas], and of course the missed season. We hope our bettors don’t know more than we do, but we’ll adjust accordingly as time goes on. I do love what Halifax has done during the break, strengthening an already impressive squad. They feel like the team to beat!”

With the ALC, which is regulated by the four Atlantic provinces (Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) in Canada, looking to expand its sports betting offerings, Eagles set his sights on lacrosse to fill the void.

“It’ll be our first go-around with the league. In years past, more niche leagues weren’t selling much and we have a small trading team who has to prioritize their time with events our players will bet on,” Eagles added. “With our increasing player base and revenues over the past few years, there has been demand to add more sports and the NLL was a natural choice. It is really growing in popularity and easily fills the arena in Halifax. Of course, even the ‘Great One’ [Wayne Gretzky] is in on the action now.”

NLL getting profile boost from Gretzky

Gretzky, widely considered the greatest Canadian hockey player ever, is fully endorsing the sport after becoming an investor in the new Las Vegas NLL franchise, which will debut in 2022-23. He’s also partnering with other high-profile investors, including his son-in-law and PGA Tour superstar Dustin Johnson and Canadian basketball icon Steve Nash, who is currently the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Gretzky’s involvement in the sport certainly will elevate its profile moving forward, and he looks like he could even jump in and play a few minutes for Vegas, if needed — although the NHL legend’s behind-the-back passes look a little rusty these days.

Las Vegas will become the league’s 15th franchise next season. The NLL, which has operated since 1987, continues to enjoy rapid expansion, adding five teams in five years. Vegas was a natural choice for expansion after the recent successes of the NHL’s expansion into town with the Golden Knights and the relocation of the NFL’s Raiders to the city.

‘Pick ‘Em Challenge’ game launching

The NLL also announced a new free game for its fans ahead of the new season: Pick ‘Em Challenge.

Genius Sports assisted with the launch of the game, which will give fans the chance to answer questions each week in order to win cash (up to $10,000) and other prizes.

“NLL Pick ‘Em is another way that fans can stay engaged with the league and its players on a deeper level, encouraging greater knowledge of the game and rewarding our most loyal supporters,” NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said in a press release. “And with all of our games more accessible in the U.S. and Canada, following the progress of their NLL Pick ‘Em selections will be easier than ever.”

The league also struck a deal with ESPN (and TSN in Canada) to broadcast 10 regular season games on the main network while also committing to streaming every regular season contest on ESPN+.

Genius Sports, an official data and technology company, recently announced its financials for the third quarter of 2021, declaring a new company high in revenue of $69.1 million.

Photo: Jerry Lai/USA TODAY

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