- Sportsbooks around the country have been forced to either close temporarily or turn to new sports to make up for lost revenue.
- Notable betting options now include Liga MX, UFC, and the Australian Football League.
- These options have been popular with American fans despite their relative obscurity.
- Despite the continued popularity of betting, the sports gambling industry as a whole is going to take a massive financial hit from the COVID-19 crisis and it will likely take months or years to fully recover.
LAS VEGAS – With the college basketball and NBA seasons grinding to a halt, sportsbooks across the country have been scrambling to find new ways to make up for lost revenue.
Some sportsbooks have temporarily closed down entirely, but others have begun offering bets on the few global sports that haven’t been affected by the shutdown, from Australian rules football to Brazilian mixed martial arts.
Online sportsbooks have begun featuring events for the Turkish Super League, Russian Premier League, professional table tennis, and more.
Despite their lack of familiarity to American sports fans, these new options have been drawing a healthy volume of bets. Chris Andrews, the director of South Point Hotel Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, said of the situation, “In our racket, people like to have action.”
There are even a handful of major, internationally acclaimed leagues still in operation. The Australian Football League, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and Mexican Liga MX are all hosting regular events.
That isn’t to say that these situations are entirely stable. All three leagues have faced varying degrees of public pressure to suspend play in the interest of public health.
The Australian Football League is currently considering schedule alterations, and the outcry against the UFC has been fierce, with The Guardian calling their stubborn refusal to suspend fights “reckless and irresponsible.”
Liga MX looks secure for now, however. Thanks to a proactive approach from the Mexican government, there have only been 43 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the entire country.
The sports betting industry has shown remarkable resilience in the face of a global crisis, but additional closures seem to be inevitable, and more sportsbooks will likely begin closing their doors in the coming weeks and months.
For now, however, play continues, and as long as there is something to bet on, clever sportsbook operators will ensure that sports bettors have a way to scratch that itch.
Can Sportsbooks Actually Make Up For Lost Revenue?
The timing of the mass Coronavirus-related sports cancellations couldn’t have come at a worse time for sportsbooks. The college basketball postseason, especially the March Madness tournament, is one of the biggest cash cows in the sports betting industry.
While bookies don’t disclose itemized bets, some casino officials have gone on record very candidly about the impact of March Madness.
Jay Kornegay, a manager at the Westgate Las Vegas Casino and Resort, said, “We certainly write more tickets on the first four days of the tournament than we do on the Super Bowl”.
The Super Bowl is the most wagered-on individual event of the year, but the cumulative handle from a 67-game championship tournament, especially one that has become such a cultural phenomenon, is impossible to replicate.
“There is no magic formula out there that we could put together that’s going to make up for March Madness,” said Kornegay.
These alternative betting options are a fun novelty for fans, and they are great in the fact that they allow sportsbooks to keep their doors open so that their employees can continue to collect paychecks.
Unfortunately, it is still a band-aid on a stab wound. Projected losses from the Coronavirus are staggering, and it might take years for the sports betting industry to fully recover.
But that’s the state of the world right now. A global emergency of unprecedented scale necessitates sacrifices in all areas of life.
News tags: Australian Football League | Chris Andrews | College Basketball | Coronavirus | COVID-19 | Jay Kornegay | Liga MX | March Madness | NBA | Russian Premier League | South Point Hotel Casino & Spa | Super Bowl | table tennis | The Guardian | Turkish Super League | UFC | Westgate Las Vegas Casino and Resort
With a dual background in English and sports performance and business analytics, Carter aims to write stories that both engage and inform the reader. He prides himself on his ability to interweave empirical data and traditional narrative storytelling. When he isn’t keeping readers up to date on the latest sports betting legal news, he’s banging his head against a wall regretting his decision to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan.