The Current Sports Betting Landscape Offers Plenty of Questions and Limited Answers
It’s been over a month since we could last bet on sporting event that wasn’t taking place in Belarus or on a PlayStation. Since then, much of our time has been dedicated to handicapping when sports will return and what it will look like when it does. Below is an update of what some of the leagues are planning and the current landscape of sports betting.
MLB – The league’s latest pitch is to have an abbreviated season that takes place in various stadiums across Florida, Texas, and Arizona. But the idea of no fans and essentially quarantining everyone involved — players, coaches, umpires, support staff, etc. — for five months hasn’t sat well with some of the players.
College Football – Of all the major North American sports, college football seems to be the least likely to take place in 2020. For starters, the number of people involved is much higher than baseball and basketball. And with it being an “amateur” sport, universities and the NCAA run the risk of a backlash should there be an outbreak or even a single death. That said, the amount of money at stake is staggering. There’s talk about holding a winter and/or spring season. Some coaches have taken a cautious approach with seemingly the players’ best interests in mind while others, well, not so much.
NFL – For much of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has stated that it plans to start the season on time. However, even the mighty NFL has started to come to grips with the fact that that is unlikely. Like MLB, there’s rumblings of a shortened season and no fans. Despite this, Caesars recently released regular season win totals on all 32 teams.
NFL Draft – The draft is slated for this weekend and has drawn a lot of betting interest. In fact, one oddsmakers said that his sportsbook has received 10 times the amount of volume it normally sees on draft prop bets. While the combine did take place, the media doesn’t have nearly as much information, rumors, and inside scoops as it normally does — the types of things that form and fuel the draft betting markets. One unnamed GM said this year’s mock drafts are way off compared to past seasons.
Betting on ESports – Despite some integrity issues, Las Vegas sportsbooks have been taking bets on various ESports events. But the volume has been limited and rather than a full market with multiple options, sportsbooks must be approved for individual events.
College Football Season Win Totals – Earlier this month, DraftKings released regular season win totals on all 130 teams. Having betting opportunities is great but with serious questions about a start date and season-long format, college football futures bets remain a very dicey proposition.
KBO – Perhaps offering MLB a blueprint, the Korean Baseball Organization plans to start its season on May 5. Most offshore sportsbooks have past experience booking the KBO so expect it draw a fair amount of betting interest.
Sportsbooks – While bettors have proven willing to place a wager on pretty much anything, the reality is, sportsbooks, particularly those in the United States, are struggling. The handle for Las Vegas sportsbooks in March typically tops $500 million.