2020 Sports Betting

  • The sports betting market suffered early in 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic shutting down major sports from playing.
  • Online sports betting grew in popularity with people being forced to stay home.
  • Multiple sporting leagues running simultaneously led to increases in sports betting revenue.

WASHINGTONThe year 2020 has turned out to be one of the most interesting years for legal sports betting. The year began with major losses for sportsbooks across the board but ended with some of the biggest gains of all time.

Most of what affected legal sports betting was due to the COVID-19 global pandemic that affected the entire world. This resulted in sporting events and leagues being canceled or postponed and then returning all around the same time.

In addition, a rise in esports betting and virtual sports betting is a bioproduct of the interesting year of legal sports betting in 2020.

League Shut Downs

When multiple major leagues were forced to shut down due to the pandemic, sports betting came to an abrupt standstill.

Many online sportsbooks were forced to freeze their books as no games were available to be wagered on. Sports betting markets saw major losses in sports betting revenue as local residents had no way of betting on their favorite teams.

“This is crazy,” said Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks when he heard about the NBA shutting down. “This can’t be true. I mean, it’s not within the realm of possibility. It seemed more like out of a movie than reality.”

In addition to the NBA shutting down, the NCAA March Madness Tournament was canceled, and the XFL season was canceled as well, leading to the league filing for bankruptcy.

There were almost no professional sporting events taking place, as tennis and soccer leagues around the world were also forced to shut down due to the pandemic.

Sports bettors who had an itch for betting on sports, however, were not completely left out in the water. A rise in esports betting occurred during this period, as bettors needed a competitive event to wager on.

What was initially viewed as a niche platform for competition, was gaining more attention from a bettor, which major sportsbooks recognized.

Esports Sportsbooks

Esports betting was catapulted into the mainstream sports betting arena following the shutdowns of major leagues. Once sports betting operators saw the draw of esports, the trajectory for the niche gaming league expanded.

Now, major casino and gaming operators are with esports leagues. There is even a new esports-only sportsbook in the works.

The future for esports betting is now a brighter one as esports took the reigns for the earlier months in 2020. Esports possibly would not have gotten as popular to bettors if not for the temporary shutdowns in 2020.

Online Sports Betting Boom

As leagues began to resume following the early force hiatus’, online sports betting began breaking records.

During the end of the summer leading into the fall, the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL were all active at the same time. The NBA, NHL, and MLB were heading into the climaxes of their respective seasons while the NFL was just starting up.

What this led to, was a boom in online sports betting. Part of this boom could be attributed to the many sporting events available to wager on at one time, while another part could be attributed to sports bettors either being forced to stay home, or not feeling comfortable going to a retail sportsbook.

The pandemic forced physical locations to close for a large chunk of the year, but online sportsbooks were still operational in many markets.

States like New Jersey saw continued record-breaking months in online sports betting activity throughout this period.

In addition, many new markets launched and saw almost immediate success with online sports betting.

A state that was affected was Illinois. The Prairie State’s sports betting regulations required in-person sign up for online sports betting. However, due to the pandemic, Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed an executive order that allows remote registration for online sports betting almost every month this year.

Following this, Illinois saw major success in online sports betting in its newfound market. This could possibly lead to an amendment where remote signups are permanent.

Not just Illinois, but several markets saw an immediate success rate when it comes to sports betting activity. Tennessee managed to set the first-month sports betting record following its launch, with all the bets coming from online.

Online sports betting truly blossomed in 2020, which will likely carry over into 2021. Sports betting may permanently be affected by this, with online betting becoming the primary way bettors wager on sports.

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