So far, 2020 has been a strange one for sports. Following the Super Bowl in February, there have hardly been any mass live events. March Madness, the biggest collegiate event in the United States, was suspended minutes before the first game. Following this, many other sports competitions around the globe also faced cancellations and suspensions until further notice.
The good news is that some sports are making tentative steps with sports bodies keen to see athletes back out there. The UEFA Champions League is back, and so is the 2019-2020 NBA season, along with hockey, baseball, and certainly the MMA.
Yet, in terms of online betting, sports aficionados and bettors have had a few months of poor choices, balancing Russian table tennis and even darts. However, this may be coming to an end with more events lining up to launch officially.
How has the hiatus affected online betting, though? While there have been fewer events to bet, most core sports bettors have kept at it. With the NBA and NHL back, and not to mention the UFC, the online betting handle has been picking up nicely.
The National Football League Set to Return and So Are Bettors
If things have been slow in the past few months, the NBA and UFC have been sweet refreshments. The NBA has been running four to five games a day, and under UFC president Dana White, the MMA has seen plenty of fantastic fights taking place since the sport’s return.
It’s not at all surprising that the UFC has been the first to return. Even though preparing a venue and guaranteeing the safety of staff members and fighters has not been an easy feat, with many lawmakers turning down White’s request to host events in their jurisdictions, the UFC has far fewer things to worry about.
Finally, White was able to secure Abu Dhabi as a permanent venue for his fighters. This plan was set in motion long before the pandemic hit, but coincided nicely with the global lockdown, allowing the UFC to be one step ahead of most other official events.
How has the return of the UFC affected online betting handle? It’s hard to say, but judging from sports handle in June, New Jersey saw a 40% spike in the sports betting numbers driven by overseas soccer and UFC.
Now that the NBA, NHL, and MLB are back in earnest, the total sports betting handle for July in New Jersey alone exceeded $315,118,805 or double the June’s results. This is still lower when compared to results from 2019, but at least the betting handle is recovering. That recovery applies to both the land-based segment as well as online sports betting.
The next biggest driver of sports betting revenue will be the National Football League (NFL). It’s expected to help all jurisdictions catch up to their 2019’s results, marking a return to normality at long last.
How Well Has the Recovery Gone So Far?
Recovery has been steady with numbers from official regulatory authorities offering a reassuring outlook for the entire sports betting industry. There have been several reasons for optimism, including:
- The return of mainstream sports events (NHL, MLB, NHL, NBA)
- The continuous investment by major sports betting agencies
- The push for mobile wagering options as an alternative to retail betting
All three factors have sent a clear sign that betting is recovering and doing so quickly. With the renewed efforts to add more alternatives forms of betting, such as mobile wagering, the United States’ betting industry is weathering the storm well.
Online betting has been recovering both in the mainland as well as in offshore areas. With dozens of trusted operators, some offshore betting options can offer competitive betting odds and lines and even resuscitate demand.
Residents in states where no official sports betting product has been launched have plenty of online betting opportunities to explore offshore, with the majority being trusted and worthwhile options. Thanks to these betting options, the online betting handle has been recovering, serving as a role model for retail sportsbooks.
Yet, not everything is focused on the online segment, and it will take some time before seeing mobile wagering become the norm.
Sports Wants More Betting Options Available
While in the past, sports leagues and teams weren’t sure if they wanted to endorse sports betting, the attitude has changed to one that favors the industry. All major players have given up on their previous calls to introduce an ill-defined “integrity fee” to help protect sports.
It has become abundantly clear that sports betting doesn’t affect the integrity of sporting contests, even on a collegiate level. However, lawmakers have been slower to adopt this form of betting.
Today, even individual franchises are pushing to regulate sports betting and allow fans and bettors to place wagers legally. Red Sox’s Sam Kennedy was one of the latest public figures to call for the adoption of sports betting.
Naturally, such calls are another way to send online betting handle up. With more people endorsing sports betting, even conservative sports fans are willing to give betting a shot, and it often proves too satisfactory to pass upon.
Meanwhile, the online betting handle has been climbing back up, with sports adapting to the new realities in the not-yet post-COVID-19 world. Most athletes and teams will have difficult choices to make.
Playing in professional events these days may already be too much of a commitment with social ties cut off to make sure athletes don’t end up infected outside of the “bubbles,” which have been established.
Suspending events would no doubt have an impact on online sports betting handle. For example, two conferences have said that they won’t participate in the fall season and may restart in the spring instead.
In general, this shouldn’t affect sports betting handle too severely as there is plenty of markets to go on. However, offshore, where college betting options are more prolific, there may be a dip in betting a bit.
Overall, though, online and retail sports betting is here, and it’s recovering. So are our favorite sports.