With every passing day, the effects of the coronavirus spreading across different parts of the world continue to make a massive dent in all walks of life. Many look at Wednesday, March 11th, as the day things took a massive turn for the worst.
In what is one of the busiest times of the year for many different sports, just about every major sport has now suspended games indefinitely to protect players, staff, fans, and more.
No one is entirely sure at this time about the effect this will have in the short term or long term, but for any industry tied to sports, there is now a huge void. It has left the entire world of sports gambling in a pickle, during a month that is usually one of the busiest of the year.
This is what we know so far, and what those involved in sports betting should expect in the future.
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The COVID-19 Timeline
The first reported case of COVID-19 occurred in China in December 2019. Originating in the city of Wuhan, most other parts of the world did not pay that much attention to the virus until it started to spread outside of Asia.
Sports were first impacted in China, as well as other Asian countries. The virus quickly started making an impact in Europe, and then the United States in February 2020.
In the beginning, the most significant international fear was that the virus would have an impact on the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The games remain on schedule, but with each passing day, more and more people fear the Olympics might not happen.
The first major news, from a sports betting perspective, occurred when major soccer matches starting getting postponed and cancelled in Europe. Real Madrid is one of the most universally-known multi-sport clubs in the world. They have decided to self-quarantine their entire organization after coming in contact with those who have tested positive.
This past week was the first significant wave in the United States. In a week’s time, sports went from business as usual, to maybe playing without fans, to completely stopped.
A look at all futures and other pending sports bets
Futures are a huge part of the sports betting industry, and while there have been cases of seasons ending prematurely in the past, nothing has been quite as widespread as this.
At this point, there are too many unknowns about what the next steps will be with any major sport. In college athletics, there is less of a window to get games in, so it was not too surprising to hear that winter sports were cancelled. What did shock some is that they cancelled spring sports also.
For leagues like the NBA and NHL, they are roughly one month away from the start of their postseason. This puts them in a very tough spot to finish up the season and have a standard postseason. There are opportunities to push it into the summer possibly, but it would then impact the next season that starts in the fall.
It is not all doom and gloom from a sports betting perspective, as this does come at a dead time for The NFL and college football. Yes, there were a solid amount of people putting money down on XFL Games, but sports betting in the United States is at its highest every fall. No one knows how the virus will look in the upcoming months, but it at least offers up some time to get things back to normal.
Most sportsbooks have generally refunded future bets in the past if the event does not happen. Those who placed futures bets on the NCAA Tournament should expect to hear something soon, depending on who they did business with. For the other merely suspended sports, the money will stay with the sportsbook until an official cancellation.
The NBA domino affect
Many people cite the announcement of Rudy Gobert testing positive for COVID-19 as the tipping point for the sporting world. Up until that point, many leagues were looking at alternative methods to continue playing in some capacity. These were precautionary measures, but now that is a bit more real, stopping sports altogether seems like the only solution for the short term.
Gobert might be making a lot of headlines in the United States, but there have been several prominent athletes in major sports around the globe who have been in direct contact with those who have tested positive as well. It was bound to happen eventually, but the poor optics of Gobert rubbing his hands on microphones and making a mockery of the virus certainly did not help his image.
Looking back, the whole chain of events started by Gobert’s positive test might end up being the wake-up call needed for sports. Many in charge wanted to do anything possible to salvage the major leagues, but a rampant spread of the virus could set sports back even longer.
The impact on stock prices
It has been a rough start to the 2020 year for a lot of casinos, and it seems only to be getting worse. Major casino companies like Wynn Resorts, Churchhill Downs, Las Vegas Sands, Monarch Casino, and El Dorado have all seen a considerable dip in the last month. In particular, El Dorado is down 60% since the end of January.
As cancellations continue to come in, there is a lot of uncertainty looking at stock prices for the next few months. Without nearly as much travel to places that make betting a lot more accessible, it could be months of poor numbers for these casino operators.
Will COVID-19 have an impact on sports betting bills?
As one might expect, the number one focus for a lot of state legislatures at this point is COVID-19. It will be unknown for at least a few days, and possibly weeks, as far as if this will change legislation at all in states looking to legalize sports betting.
This was supposed to be a huge month for Illinois and Michigan, as both made betting live earlier this month. They were looking to capitalize on the busy sports schedule in particular, but now there are noticeable changes to that plan.
Long-term, the pandemic will likely not have an impact on whether or not individual states legalize sports betting or not. There might be some delays, but with minimal sports to bet on anyway, it is not a high priority.
It is still too early to make any definitive declarations on sports, and sports betting at this point. For now, sports are virtually non-existent for at least the next couple of weeks in the United States. Each day, sportsbooks will take significant hits that could take a long time to recover completely.
The COVID-19 virus reached a point that stopping the games now will hopefully limit the amount of stoppage needed to get past this. Major leagues are hoping for things to play out that way.