Published on June 28th, 2021 | by Bibhuranjan0
How COVID-19 Affected the Sports Betting Industry
COVID-19 managed to disrupt how our society functioned. Many establishments closed, and protocols limiting the disease’s spread was put in place. While these changes were necessary to lessen the spread and eradicate the disease, various lives and industries were severely affected. The pandemic brought in the new normal.
One of these industries is sports betting, or betting in general. Because of social distancing protocols, various sporting events were either held to a standstill or were forced to follow a workaround for the safety of both athletes and audience members. However, there were still cases of the disease spreading around players, causing a significant upset with various teams’ composition and dynamics.
Despite the development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine a year later after the initial outbreak, there are still ongoing issues that continue to affect the betting industry. These changes caused bettors and sportsbooks alike to look for new opportunities in the world of betting.
Our economy mainly revolves around our choices of leisure and entertainment, things that we do during our free time. Sports and sporting events are considered as leisure, as well as the betting games that it offers. In North America alone, the sports market had a whopping worth of about $71.06 Billion during 2018 and is expected to rise to $83.1 Billion in 2023.
However, the market saw a significant loss after the pandemic broke out. Because of how jam-packed a stadium becomes once a big sporting event rolls in, many medical experts feared that it would become a super spreader of the disease.
Moreover, contact sports, such as football and basketball, will require players to be less than 6m apart to intercept other teams’ offences or defend their goals. It was a health risk, which led to various sports organisers to postpone or cancel the games.
Even the most renowned and anticipated sporting event, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, was temporarily called off because of the COVID-19 crisis. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee agreed that postponing would be the best course of action for everyone. Still, they’re hopeful that the games will commence in the summer of 2021, at the very latest.
With the suspensions and postponements came revenue loss. Major sports leagues lost a significant amount of money during 2020. According to Forbes, the suspension of these events for two months generated at least $14.1 Billion of loss, which factors in TV broadcasts, sponsorships, concessions, and venue ticket sales.
Because of the lack of sporting events during the peak of COVID-19, the sports betting industry took a massive hit. But despite these unprecedented challenges, there were still major leagues and tournaments all over Europe that punters placed their stakes on. Moreover, bookies offered perks and bonuses to entice more customers, such as 888sport.com and even deposited bonuses upon signup.
Not only that, but the COVID-19 pandemic had led to bookies diversifying the betting games they offered, pouring more attention into online casinos, virtual sports, and fantasy betting.
Various sportsbooks worldwide started offering casino games, which led to these sites having live dealers and popular casino games such as poker, bingo, and slot machines. These games proved to be a great alternative to the sporting events postponed during that year.
Moreover, eSports betting saw a significant increase in players, especially in the UK. According to the figures that the UKGC released, while the local sports betting had received big losses, eSports continued to grow in betting rates. From its £50,223 in March 2019, the eSports betting games grew to an outstanding £1.9 million in March 2020.
On the other hand, the global fantasy sports market is expected to grow to $6.28 Billion. This is because several mobile apps will be released by various vendors and are expected to increase the market’s revenue. With this, traditional sports punters can easily get to try the betting games offered by fantasy sports.
With society slowly emerging from the blow brought by COVID-19, major leagues will surely get back to their feet. That said, many sporting events have already kicked off as per their annual schedule before the pandemic hit.
But despite this reemergence, it’s unlikely for bookies to go back and focus on traditional sports betting alone, especially now that other betting games are offering a wide range of wagering opportunities.
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