COVID-19 Has Suspended the NBA Season and March Madness is now in Jeopardy. Updates from the Sportsbook Industry as the virus concerns grow.
The NBA suspended its season due to Coronavirus last night after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive. Other leagues will likely follow in suspending play. The NHL has already announced a suspension of practices and league events, and many in the media think NHL games will be next to get shut down. The media is also calling for the NCAA to reevaluate its plan to play games in empty arenas with no fans.
If March Madness is cancelled due to COVID-19, the economic impacts will be substantial. Even the current plan to play without fans will have a trickle down effect. It will be costly in ways ranging from the pockets of arena employees to hundreds of millions in lost revenue for the host communities.
Sports betting revenue will also be lost. Legal betting is now live in multiple US states. Some states have online sportsbooks up and running, while others are starting with in-person betting.
Sportsbook Operators Opening for Business During Coronavirus Scare
Detroit had a grand opening for the city’s first three sportsbooks on Wednesday. Michigan was hoping to capitalize on March Madness, during which an unprecedented number of Americans were expected to make a bet. If the tournament doesn’t happen, it will be a major missed opportunity for tax dollars.
The Detroit sportsbooks did open as planned, and the casinos are implementing safeguards against the virus. Hand sanitizer stations are in place and cleaning intensified of high traffic areas. Despite the scare, a crowd of dozens did gather to bet on sports at the new Detroit sportsbook options downtown. Amongst the first to make a bet were Steeler great Jerome Bettis and Red Wings legend Dino Ciccarelli.
What did Bettis wager on? ‘The Bus’ bet $20 on Rory McIlroy to win the Players Championship this weekend. The TPC is underway in Florida, with only huge crowds and only one virus precaution in place. No autographs.
Illinois also opened a new sportsbook this week at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, IL. Crowds of bettors came in-person to place bets. Like Detroit, hand sanitizer stations and an intensified cleaning routine were put in place. So, its betting business as usual for the up and coming betting industry in Illinois and other US states.
The Impact of Corona on Sports Betting So-far
DraftKings, FanDuel and other sportsbook operators have shut down all betting on the NBA. On Wednesday night, DraftKings notified all players that bets for the games that were canelled last night would be voided. All players are getting their money back for those NBA bets.
Future bets, like those on the 2020 NBA Finals and MVP, are still active if you placed them prior to Wednesday. However, no more bets on NBA futures are being taken at this time and the lines have been taken down at every online and in-person sportsbook Sportsbook operators will wait until the NBA decides how to proceed with the season, to announce what will happen with in-play future bets. It is likely that the books will have to make a similar decision regarding the NHL and other sports. How the sportsbook decision makers deal with a potentially shortened season will be interesting to watch. If the NBA and NHL season are shorter than 82 games, will all win total over/under bets be voided? There is no real precedent to predict how this will be dealt with.
DFS (daily fantasy sports) NBA games on DraftKings were also effected on Wednesday night. DK issued a site credit (minus winnings) to anyone who rostered players from games that were cancelled. This includes players from Jazz vs Thunder and Pelicans vs Kings.
Stay tuned to The Props Network for more sports betting news and information.