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US Sportsbooks’ Challenge: Adapt or Hibernate

A year ago the thought of replacing bets on March Madness or the start of the MLB season with eSports, politics or chess would have gotten you laughed out of your local casino but that is where we are – in unprecedented times with zero sports, being forced to seek entertainment without any social contact.

“How do you prepare for a complete shutdown of major sporting events [and] any gatherings over 50 people?” Duane Colucci, assistant race and sports manager at the Rampart Casino in Las Vegas said. “It’s so hard to fathom. You can’t prepare for something like this, especially in the race and sportsbook industry.”

Sportsbooks around the world could be in a position to take advantage of a quarantined public as most are turning to online platforms for their socialization and their entertainment. The trick for gambling providers? To give the betting public something they can sink their teeth into. Something that interests them enough so that they will want to risk their hard-earned dollars. In the eyes of some, that task shouldn’t be as difficult as it sounds. Industry insider Duane Colucci recently said: “If you can bet on it and we can book it, somebody is going to bet on it”.

It's a simple choice for sportsbooks. Adapt or risk losing everything. Let's take a peek into some of the measures the major gambling providers are taking in order to keep you in their fold during this coronavirus pandemic.

 

Yup, there's still sports going on!

Interested in Russian Basketball and Volleyball, Australian Soccer and Football, Belarussian hockey, horse racing, Sudanese Basketball or Hong Kong, Nicaraguan, Saint Kitts and Nevis Soccer? Well, you may be in luck. Those professional leagues are still running and if one searches hard enough, they just may find a place they can throw down a little wager.

UFC 249 is still rumored to be going ahead and it figures to be a highly watched, highly anticipated event for all of us sports-starved, locked-down citizens. Futures bets on the four Major North American sports leagues have been popular as well along with bets on the upcoming NFL draft. Other than that, you can find action on…

 

Pop-Culture

Some of the bigger sportsbooks in the land have resorted to pop-culture prop bets to draw people in or keep them in the betting fold. Books have been forced to create pools and betting opportunities on TV shows and politics, a highly contentious wagering topic in the US. Some books have even taken a crack at bets on the weather.

Right now, you can find action on the winner of “Survivor” and you can enter pools for shows like Top Chef, Jeopardy, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

One top Fantasy site recently ran a series of bets about last week’s Democratic Debate and drew in excess of 55,000 players. Questions like “which candidate will bring up the coronavirus first?” and “over/under how many tweets will Trump post during the debate?” were included in that set of prop bets.

 

eSports

eSports may be the biggest winner in the total shutdown of sports leagues across the world. Gaining in popularity, the betting side of the business hasn’t really taken off other than last year’s League of Legends World Championship Finals which is still the only eSports betting opportunity available in most states.

Some question whether or not eSports can be a viable betting income source for sportsbooks while others think it is an obvious next step for providers. “According to different researches, eSports and eSports bets are among the fastest-growing areas in the gambling industry," Betinvest chief operating officer Max Dubossarsky said. "Operators, who just a few years ago hadn’t considered eSports solutions as a means of business development, are therefore actively introducing them or exploring their potential."

eSports will definitely get an opportunity to shine the next couple of months as the world goes without sports and is looking for entertainment outlets from the comfort of their couches.

 

Virtual Sports

Virtual Sports or computer-simulated games has been more popular in Europe than North America but it too has a chance to make a splash in the North American market with the absence of real-life sporting events. There are 11 virtual sports offered by Bet365 in New Jersey including horse racing, soccer and basketball.

New Jersey appears to be the epicenter of Virtual Sports’ attempt to become more mainstream in the US market. But most analysts believe Virtual Sports Betting will be a tough sell in the long run, especially when sports come back. "It's very difficult to convince someone that was used to betting on basketball or football to start doing it on virtual. It's a different type of player” one analyst said.

 

So…

Sports bettors, just like sportsbooks have a choice. Adapt or stop the wagers altogether. While politics, video games and virtual sports may not be an equal replacement for the real, live events, they are OK options until the world gets through this mess. Sportsbooks encourage you to give these betting opportunities a shot. They may just be the door that you didn’t even know was there.