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Odds Supremo, DraftKings Sportsbook Director Johnny Avello Talks March Madness and the Future of the Company

Every year, this week draws some of the most diehard basketball fans to Las Vegas. But aside from all the madness of March that the NCAA Tournament brings to the Entertainment Capital of the World, daily fantasy sports and sports betting company DraftKings will provide many bracket pool and wagering options for fans across the United States. For example, one of their bracket contests will award one million dollars to whoever finishes in first place.

Frequent CYInterview guest, DraftKings sportsbook director Johnny Avello joins us, just hours away from the tipoff of the first games for this year’s NCAA Tournament. Given the event was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the veteran oddsmaker says he and many others are excited to have the event back this year. Due to the shorter college basketball season and many cancelled games, he says this year was different for him and other oddsmakers as much as it was for the players on the floor:

“It was really different. It felt different. And with some of the cancellations of the games, it kind of took momentum from teams, took momentum from bookmakers to gauge where those teams actually were. You know, did we have the right power rating on those teams. So, it was a trying year.”

At DraftKings, the betting favorite to win the national championship of college basketball is the currently undefeated Gonzaga Zags. Here are Johnny Avello’s thoughts on their chances to win the title:

“I think they do get, they do win, eventually win the region and then we’ll see if they get it done when they start playing some of the higher quality teams on a night to night basis pretty much because that’s what’s gonna happen. They’re gonna play, once they get to the Final 4, they’re gonna be four high quality teams which they haven’t had to play those type of teams in back to back games.”

DraftKings now has brick and mortar locations and partnerships with various casinos across the country. Though not currently in the Las Vegas market, Mr. Avello says it sounds good to him if the public company were to decide to buy a Las Vegas resort, like the Palms Casino Resort, to plant their flag in the Entertainment Capital of the World. There is no indication that the Palms is up for sale, though it has remained closed for about a year. John offered this:

“That’s not something I’m involved in. That’s, you know, business development decision. You know, so you’d have to talk to those guys if that’s something that’s, they’re interested in. Sounds good to me if they decide to do it.”

Featured columnist Jay Bildstein joined us for this CYInterview where we discuss the upcoming NCAA Tournament, what else in store for the users of DraftKings for the NCAA Tournament and the continued evolution of the company.

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