Prop Betting on the Rise at Circa Sports

We’re midway through the football season, and we have seen a lot of action. One thing that the oddsmakers at Circa Sports has seen this season, and has seen for several years now, is the growth in appetite for prop betting.

For those unaware, prop (short for proposition) betting is a term used for any bet that isn’t a side or total. Instead of betting on full-game, you are betting on an aspect of an event. A player prop bet could be something along the lines of a player going over or under a certain number of yards, or scoring a touchdown. You could see a game prop listed of whether a team will score in the final two minutes of a half. A team prop could be how many points a team will score. When we’re discussing football prop bets rising in popularity, it’s largely the specific player props that have had a notable increase in recent years.


The History of Prop Bets


While props existed in some form before this, the first notable prop bet was put on a betting menu for the NFL Championship Game in 1986. In that season, the Chicago Bears loved to run a play where defensive player William “The Refrigerator” Perry would run the ball. So a sportsbook in Las Vegas put up whether or not Perry would score. The public went nuts over it, hammering the bet, which ended up hitting. It was so popular, and drew so much public attention, that the prop bet menu for the Big Game became one of the anticipated draws for sports bettors. 

Dylan Sullivan, a risk manager at Circa Sports, oversees many of the pro football markets that go up, including the prop bets.

“There was always the big NFL Championship Game menu, but the appetite has grown so much for prop bets,” Sullivan explains. “Now every game has what we’ve seen from a Big Game menu ten years ago. It’s just become a normalized part of betting football.”


Enthusiastic Pro Football Fans Watching Game


Proposition Betting on the Rise


Part of the rise in popularity of prop bets can be attached to the rise in popularity of fantasy football. Many of the newer bettors as states have legalized in the past few years grew up playing fantasy football, which saw a massive growth in popularity in the past 15 years. Those who play fantasy spent full seasons studying the players and figuring out who might have great individual games on a week-by-week basis. This corresponds to what prop bettors do looking for the right player props for individual games.

While season-long fantasy certainly factored in, arguably the biggest shift in people viewing games is the rise of daily fantasy sports (DFS). When DFS got its rise in the mid-2010s, people could pick any player they thought would be best that season, not constrained by the player pools in season-long fantasy. They could even play for money. That whetted their appetite for betting on players until they were able to place legal sports wager on it.

“We’ve definitely seen a rise in popularity in props from the average guy,” Sullivan says. “Between the growth from fantasy football to DFS to seeing the demand for a massive prop menu. The average guy likes betting props more.”

Circa Sports has seen their own rise in prop betting over the years. There was such a great demand for it, that they went from just putting up a limited menu for primetime games to putting up an expanded menu, and now every game sees player props go up.

“On a primetime game, we see the ticket count often is close to even between props and side/totals,” Sullivan explains. “We do see more money come in on the spread or totals because of the higher limits offered. But if we’re talking about an average $100 bettor? They’ll bet more props than full games.”


Excited Friends Winning Prop Bets at Circa Sports


How Circa Sports Sets Prop Bets


But how does Circa Sports figure out which props to put up? It’s just like anything else. If there’s an appetite to bet something, there’s a good chance it will go up on the board. And when it goes on the board at Circa Sports, it’s going to have the same -110 odds that you will see for spreads and totals. This is because there is a real team behind the scenes setting lines, instead of the algorithms that other books use.

“We have a team of four of us that go into the week figuring out what props we’re going to offer,” Sullivan walks through the process. “We’re mainly doing stuff that we feel the public is going to bet on. Don’t want to waste time putting up bets that people won’t bet. We gear more towards the key players. WR1s, top running backs. Guys who will have top numbers. This allows us to put up proper lines for props.”

The process to set sides and totals is largely simple and formulaic. You take one team’s power rating, compare it with the other team’s, and it gives you a basis to put the number together. Of course, there are other aspects, from home field advantage to injuries that go into it, but it is largely the same process that sportsbooks have been using for years.

Props aren’t that cut-and-dry. Every individual player will have matchups with the other team that would go into it. Even if a team is expected to score a lot of points, if a wide receiver is expected to go up against a lockdown cornerback, you could see a depressed line for that wide receiver.

“Props are so matchup-specific,” Sullivan describes. “Full-game sides and totals are derived from power ratings. When you’re looking at props, you can’t just apply a power rating on a wide receiver because it’s so game-specific. That can make things trickier.”


Getting in on the Prop Bet Action


For sure, prop bets aren’t going away. While discussing props in the risk room, Sullivan did point out that while many prop bettors are more casual, the sheer number of prop bets lends itself to sharper bettors, as there are more chances to find the lines to exploit. That’s certain to rise in future years as menus grow even more.

Will it ever overtake the total and spread betting? In some states, the “standard” bets will always be king. However, as Circa Sports grows to new locations, whether to Circa Sports Illinois or a future state, we could see the props take over and become the standard in sports betting.

When it comes to prop betting, place your bets at Circa Las Vegas, the D, or one of the other Circa Sports locations in Las Vegas. Can’t make it in? Download the app on iOS/Android to place your bets in Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, and Iowa.