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Jun-16-2020 20:52printcomments

Sports Betting: Up to COVID-19 and Beyond

Sports betting has been on the rise for the last two decades. It was at its peak as the pandemic hit. How has it been impacted and what’s the future?

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(SALEM, Ore.) - You can imagine the overwhelming challenge faced by betting sites that rely on the action of live sport to flourish.

One minute you are part of a sector that is peaking in popularity, with billions spent each year. Then, sports are shut down because of a pandemic and the foundation of your business is swiped out from under you.

Here we explore the rise of sports betting - what made it so successful. Then, we will consider how the sector has responded to the impact of COVID-19.

We will consider the response of experts in the field and what this means for the future of sports betting. With the launch of a new sports betting design, we can celebrate the agility of this industry.

The rise of sports betting

The growth of legal sports betting has overwhelmed all expert commentators. With more than $20 billion worth of bets placed in US sportsbooks since 1992, the success has changed the relationship between the gambling industry and the sports leagues involved.

After the US Supreme Court offered a landmark decision that struck down PASPA, regulated sports betting grew exponentially.

There are now 18 states with legislation permitting regulated sports betting markets and a further 16 that have active sports betting bills. The hope is that in the next few years, there will be more than 25 states offering legal sports betting.

Much of this betting was done online. With some $4.6 billion placed in bets with a New Jersey sportsbook in 2019 more than 80% were placed online.

It is easy to see why the growth from prohibition to regulated sports betting has been called extraordinary. Two major companies, FanDuel and DraftKings started as Fantasy Sports outlets and are now bookmakers and online casino operators.

To combat the potential for problem gambling, stakeholders in sports betting, such as the NFL and PGA Tour, are members of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

By accepting the responsibility for patrons of the sports betting service, limiting regulation will be held off. It is yet another sign of the incredible success of the sector that all stakeholders have felt the need to step up to protect the industry.

And then there was COVID-19

Although you can mitigate the potential threat of regulators, you cannot go to war with a virus that isn’t even alive. The pandemic created two competing forces for sports betting.

First, live sporting events have been halted, with major leagues in all sports cancelling or postponing the season. For the longest time, there was no sport to bet on and now slowly the different sports leagues are restarting.

However, at the same time, there are millions of people turning to the internet to seek distraction and entertainment from the strangeness of the times.

Therefore, with the majority of sports betting happening online, it could be said that this threat also offers an opportunity for the sector too.

It is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has been a blow to the growth of sports betting. 2018 to 2020 has been a period of exceptional momentum and then everything came to a halt.

March Madness, the frenzy of betting on the college-basketball was cancelled. Then, other major leagues followed - no NBA games, No NHL and the Premier League soccer season on hold. Therefore, in the first moments of limbo, the initial reaction of the companies was to cut costs and seek to keep the business afloat. A UK-based company, FSB Technology, noted that sports betting was down 75%.

Yet, then, industry experts looked to creative ways to keep fans entertained while there was a literally captive audience. Sure, leaders sought to cut capital expenses but there has also been some inventiveness in what people can bet on.

The obvious markets were virtual sports. ESports have been a growing phenomenon for the past few years - but this is beyond computer gaming.

There have been virtual horse racing and virtual motorsports offering ‘live-action virtual’ events that attracted punters. Fan-Duel and DraftKings had the opportunity to move back to some of their fantasy businesses to help them weather this tough spot.

There has also been a move to include sports that would not have headlined in sports betting before. Table tennis became a huge draw for bets, for instance.

Also, companies are stepping out of sports and into politics. The US Presidential Race is said to offer huge opportunities for betting, for instance.

The future

Sports are returning - and prospect thereof is something to look forward to. There is worry about a second spike impacting on the beginning of the NFL season in the coming Fall. However, the Premier League in the UK starts in June and there is talk of the NBA playing in one venue hosted by Disney - so there is hope.

It is likely that with people still cautious to leave the house and looking to enhance live sports that there will be a rapid bounceback for sports betting companies.

However, the sports betting sector will need to continue to show agility if they are to survive over the next couple of years. Until there is the certainty offered by a vaccine, companies might need contingencies in place to counter more cancellation of live sport.

Source: Special Features Dept.


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