Plans are ongoing to bring back live sports in the United States. But with the coronavirus crisis still gathering pace, it is unclear exactly when it will be possible to hold games once more.
Not only is this a problem for sports fans who are missing out on matches, but it has also caused massive issues for the gambling industry. Sportsbooks have been left with very little to offer markets on with sports canceled in almost every single country in the world right now.
Lockdown conditions seem set to continue for a while yet, so what are sportsbooks doing to fill the gaping hole left by the lack of sports activities?
Finding new markets to offer
One of the ways sportsbooks are coping is by getting creative with their markets. With next to no live sports to bet on, they have had to think innovatively about what bets they can now offer.
According to a recent report in New York Magazine, one such way sportsbooks are trying to stay afloat is by allowing people to bet on the weather. As well as BetOnline.ag, Costa Rica-based Bovada, which already had a reputation in the industry for its eye-catching prop bets, is among the bookmakers to have taken this step to stay alive.
“The severity of what’s going on in the world right now, it’s bombarding us,” said Bovada’s head oddsmaker Pat Morrow. “You can’t flip away from cable news. You can’t have your usual distractions. So we figured: What else are people talking about?
What else are people engaging with? Hopefully, this could be our way to provide a distraction.” People have the choice to bet on whether temperatures will be high or low. Other weather-related bets might well be added as fresh markets at online sportsbooks in the weeks and months to come.
American sportsbooks are usually booming at this time of the year. March Madness is huge for bookmakers and ordinarily, there would be games taking place in the NBA, as well as for sports such as soccer and hockey. But perhaps betting on the weather could be the next big thing.
Other options are still available to bet on include markets such as the 2020 presidential election. Bernie Sanders pulling out of the race means the Democratic nominee taking on President Trump later in the year will almost certainly be the former vice-president Joe Biden. Potential wagers include which man will win the election, as well as the margin of their victory.
In a slightly meta move, some sportsbooks even allow people to place wagers on which sports are going to be back in action first. So, there is a way to still keep betting on sports after all – while people can bet on the NFL draft too.
Another alternative is the growing world of eSports. While still seen as quite a niche activity, lockdown conditions might just provide the perfect opportunity for betting on eSports to finally breakthrough into the mainstream.
Pivoting to online casinos
One-way sportsbooks have sought to protect their business is by embracing online casinos. With land-based casinos across the United States have had to shut their doors because of the coronavirus crisis, online casinos have seen an increase in popularity during the last few weeks.
Some sportsbooks already had an online casino attached while others are scrambling to offer classics such as blackjack and roulette to their users. There are still hundreds of real money no deposit sites ready to take up the action so anyone looking to have a bet has plenty of choices. And by selecting real money no deposit site, there is no need for users to risk any cash either.
Online casinos have the benefit of offering many different types of games to players. As well as the traditional options, some sites now have live casinos where users can play games such as Deal or No Deal and Monopoly. And the choice of online slot games is almost endless with some online casinos having a selection of over a thousand slots to pick from.
Companies such as 888 Holdings have noted increased levels of activity at online casinos since the pandemic began to spread. However, in an update for shareholders the company pointed out spending at online casinos might also drop due to financial uncertainty around the world.
Sportsbooks also have to keep in mind their obligations regarding encouraging safe gambling. Preventing gambling-related harm could also be more important than ever at this time with people stuck at home and experiencing high levels of boredom due to the lockdown.