You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
That’s a phrase that’s likely resonating in the minds of sports-crazed individuals during the current COVID-19 pandemic that has taken most of the world by storm. As the United States has taken measures to try to flatten the curve of the virus, sports have been suspended indefinitely.
It has created a world sports fans that have never seen: Days and nights go by without sports entertainment on TV or social media. This reality has been even harder for the fan who puts even more time and research into sports wagering.
Sportsbooks have tried to fill the gap. FanDuel and DraftKings have begun simulation betting by using video games to create statistics and results as any real sporting event would.
Though it allows people to bet and create lineups, there’s nothing like the real thing.
Leagues, fans, bettors remain hopeful
The good news is this will eventually pass, and when it does, the return could be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. There are hardly more than a few days a year that don’t have a major sporting league event occurring.
So, the anticipation and eagerness when sports do return could drive incredible interest in all sports taking place. That could, in turn, lead to a betting boom this summer that would be unprecedented.
The NBA and NHL are expected to return and will likely head quickly to the playoffs. For this story, let’s assume things ease into normal life in July. It could very well be later (or possibly a few weeks earlier if things go better than expected), but July seems like a safe prediction.
NBA wagering wildly popular
The NBA was already expected to have an exciting postseason.
LeBron James and the Lakers, and Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers were destined for an epic Los Angeles battle in the conference finals. Combine that with the storyline of Giannis Antetokounmpo potentially getting his Bucks through the Eastern Conference to take on one of those Los Angeles teams, and you have a postseason that would see no shortage of betting interest.
Basketball brought in more than $1 billion in sports bets in Nevada in 2017, according to the Sports Business Journal.
With fans going months with nothing to take their rooting interest, it’d be hard to imagine there won’t be an increase in sports wagering for a short time as things get going. Not to mention, sports betting has become more and more accessible for Americans as states nationwide legalize it.
Illinois had recently opened sportsbooks in its casinos in early March before the pandemic closed them indefinitely.
NHL betting numbers with a positive trend
Hockey doesn’t typically drive as much gambling, but numbers have been increasing for all sports in the US.
“Other” sports, which don’t include football, baseball and basketball, accounted for 9% of Nevada sports bets in 2017, according to the Sports Business Journal. That’s more than double the rate from 2005.
Nevada casinos have also reported an increase in NHL betting since the Golden Knights began to play in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights are first in the Pacific Division and firmly in the playoffs, which would drive NHL gambling even more.
Will there be a surge in baseball bets?
The MLB regular season hadn’t started yet when officials postponed the season. The hope is they can begin to play in the summer and not lose too much of its 162-game season.
Reports have stated that MLB hopes to play 100 games with a summer start and have no All-Star Game.
Baseball has also had a gambling renaissance as of late. It garnered more than 23% of sports bets in 2017 in Nevada, according to the SBJ, which was the most since 2001. Because of the long season and how many games are played, baseball is an easy sport to follow and wager on, not to mention its slow nature makes it very accessible to live betting.
If all three of the country’s major sports currently in-season do return in the summer, along with golf, tennis and motor racing, the nation that was already set to see record-breaking numbers. Due to legalization, the US could see an unprecedented sports betting boom.