- The Coronavirus is now a topic of conversation among leagues all over the world in order to contain the outbreak.
- One of the biggest events, March Madness, has set a plan in motion should they need to use it but the games will still be played.
- Sportsbooks have said that these precautions could be very favorable for the underdogs in matchups if they are implemented.
LOS ANGELES – The Coronavirus is not just affecting the health of people but it has also begun to affect sports matchups worldwide, causing a ripple effect on the legal sports betting market.
Multiple organizations from Italian soccer leagues to the American NBA have discussed precautions for playing their games because of the global outbreak. Sportsbooks are gearing up for upsets by underdogs due to the shakeup that is being caused by the illness.
What The Leagues Are Saying
Each sport has the same plan set should they need to use it; keep playing their schedule only without their fans. Games would be barred from the public to attend but would be played nonetheless.
The NBA told all of their teams in a memo that if there was any risk of the Coronavirus that they should prepare to play without fans in the stands. Some athletes do not agree with these precautionary measures.
“We play games without the fans?” said Los Angeles Lakers’ power forward Lebron James on Friday. “Nah, it’s impossible. I ain’t playing, I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.”
If players, especially key players like Lebron James refuse to play without fans then the underdogs listed by sportsbooks have the edge. In fact, bookmakers are encouraging sports bettors not to take the favored teams in the event of barred games. The Coronavirus could actually make for a big payday for those gambling on sporting events. Payouts are higher on the underdog.
“I would say take the underdog,” said Derek Wilkinson of Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. “A lot of the favorites crowds might not show up, so take the underdogs.”
The Coppa Italia games in Italy have been canceled during the second part of the semifinal. Originally, the games were going to be played without an audience, but that has since changed due to the venue being in Lombardy, the very place that began the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy.
The tournament will now be played sometime in the future but the date has yet to be determined.
The final event that has spoken about the effects the virus could have on their games is one of the biggest betting events of the year, March Madness. While the public is in a state of hysteria, the NCAA is not as worried and will not be canceling their games.
“The panel members believe that we need to better understand COVID-19 while continuing to work with local, state and federal health authorities such as the CDC,” reads a statement from the NCAA Advisory Panel. “The key is for all stakeholders and athletes to practice risk mitigation at all events. At the momenent, the panel is not recommending cancellation or public spacing of athletic and related events scheduled to occur in public spaces across the United States.”
March Madness will march on. The worst-case scenario would be to have the games played without fans in the stands. Athletes and schools have been informed of the symptoms of the Coronavirus and each player will be evaluated before they are eligible to play in the Championship.
Either way, it’s safe to say that the entire sports world is on top of the Coronavirus outbreak and taking the proper precautions to avoid the further spread of the illness.
In doing so, they’ve created what could be a very lucrative spread for all future sporting events and those betting on them. So, while fans may not be able to attend games, they could very much bank on them.
Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.