NBA Press Release

  • The Coronavirus Pandemic caused sports betting to almost cease completely to come full circle where it’s now more popular than ever.
  • The 2021 legislative sessions across the nation are considering sports wagering legalization now more than ever because of the year of COVID-19.

NEW YORK – The Coronavirus Pandemic has had an effect on everything on a global scale, not just within the nation and those effects extended all the way through to the sports betting industry.

In March 2020, the United States began slowly shutting down as the outbreak of COVID-19 started to creep through states suddenly and then all at once.

During these times, sporting events ceased to exist as all schedules were halted from the collegiate to the professional levels. This would go on for months, and a year later we are now taking a look at what COVID-19 did to the sports wagering community in America.

What Happened With COVID-19 & Sports

Legal sports betting in the United States was becoming a booming industry since the repeal of PASPA in 2018. More states had legalized the pastime and many were all set to launch their markets in 2020. Despite the Coronavirus Pandemic, these states went live with their industries during a time when there was little to nothing to gamble on.

For those first few months, it was slim pickings for betting lines. Russian table tennis and even marble races were seeing action on sportsbooks because there was so little to wager on. But operators continued to reach for all kinds of different events to keep their businesses afloat which is why marble races became so popular.

States with retail-only sports wagering were hit much harder than those that had mobile sportsbook platforms. Online and mobile sports betting could be done from home as sports bettors were quarantined. This allowed for revenues to still be made from the market in some way as land-based venues were ordered to shut down for months and thus unable to accept bets.

Areas that required in-person registration to access internet gaming outlets suffered but many, like Illinois, would lift that requirement in order to get some kind of money made from sports betting.

Once retail establishments were able to open their doors again, they were limited to operate at lower capacities not to mention having to implement a world of health safety guidelines to keep the public safe, and as a result, profits were less than expected and have remained that way going into 2021 as the same guidelines are in place.

Sports started back up in July, bringing tremendous relief to these businesses that were now able to make up for all of the time and money lost without these events. Sportsbooks began to see a surge in activity on sports like the NBA and NFL while continuing to see interest from sports bettors in Russian table tennis and other obscure sports that they were wagering on through the drought of competitions.

Mobile sports betting in the states that have it continue to see the bulk of all action through these platforms. New records are being set on state levels for handle and revenue with each passing month since July.

The lack of wagering that the Coronavirus Pandemic caused resulted in bigger and better dividends in the end. With any luck, businesses will be able to recoup the lost profits in those “lost months” due to the excess of playing they’ve seen since the return of sports.

The Takeaway

COVID-19 had a huge effect on sports betting from basically taking it away to flushing operators with handle once it came back. It’s also been a huge learning point for states without mobile sportsbooks to see just how valuable that part of the industry really is.

And states without legal sports betting altogether have opened their eyes to the prospect of markets of their own as the 2021 legislative sessions are seeing tons of bills proposing to make gambling on sporting events legal.

Lawmakers are saying that not only could sports gaming legalization offer a secure and transparent market for their states but the revenue from the industry could help their economies in coming back from the year of COVID-19.

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