So far the NFL has escaped the most damaging impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. As it stands, the regular football season is still scheduled to kick off on September 11. This would feature an opening game between Super Bowl winners Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.
But with federal and state efforts proving ineffective in stopping the virus from tearing through the US, there are real fears that we may see a fall without football. Not only would this be devastating for sports fans, but it could have a severe impact on the gambling industry in the nation.
At the moment, the college football season is under threat, and it’s expected to have an effect on the NFL schedule. It has been proposed that there could be more Saturday games added to the NFL calendar. Plus it’s widely expected that fans won’t be in attendance at any NFL games this year.
Much depends on how efforts to contain the pandemic pan out over the next few weeks. There are concerns about developments in the Midwest. If no progress is made, then the NFL season could be cancelled.Such a development would be devastating for online bookmakers. It is estimated that as much as 38% of all sports bets in the nation are on football, making it one of the most popular sports.
The rise of different betting options
While few industries would be able to survive such a loss of revenues, the online gambling industry has already shown that it is pretty adept at coming up with some alternative betting options.
With the majority of sporting events being called off in March, online bookmakers had to get creative with the odds that they put on. Table tennis was the most unlikely beneficiary of the changed circumstances with large numbers of people switching to bet on the sport for the first time.
There was also a boost in betting volume for events in countries that didn’t cancel sports. This meant that there were whole new audiences for soccer in Nicaragua and Belarus, as well as baseball in Korea.
Plus esports betting saw a massive surge in popularity with virtual NASCAR racing getting a lot of attention, alongside traditional competitive games like Counter Strike Global Offensive and League of Legends.
With the reintroduction of closed doors sporting events in Europe, many US sports fans started to bet on soccer in Germany’s Bundesliga and England’s Premier League. There was also a rise in betting on politics and even reality TV shows.
So while a lack of football this fall could be devastating for the sports betting industry, there’s hope that bookmakers’ natural creativity could help them weather the storm.