As the calendar turns to June, usually that means graduations, planning summer trips, and championship series’ for the NHL and NBA. This year, not so much.
Normally June signals the start of a lull for sports betting companies as international soccer and North American sports wrap up and it becomes weeks of baseball, tennis and golf.
With sports starting to return across the world, however, July and August could see more activity coming from European soccer leagues, the reboot of basketball and hockey, and a variety of options for players.
Return of major sports leagues coming soon
Even with the uncertainty of the MLB season, some books have favorable outlooks for the summer. A spokesperson for PointsBet said the returning sports should help overcome any downside from those that are still on pause.
“Looking forward, it is easy to assume huge handle on the NBA, NHL and NFL, particularly amplified by the lack of clarity surrounding college sports,” the emailed statements read in part. “While we do usually take more money on professional basketball and football, the sheer amount of collegiate content that might not be available should see the big pro sports league generate extremely healthy numbers.”
States with online sports betting options will reap the benefits
With casinos closed nationwide and thousands in the industry affected, those outlets with online operations are attempting to tread water. Sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel with casino games have created additional revenue streams and likely built a model for the future. While some scoffed at the notion of DFS companies offering online slots and table games, right now that move looks prescient and certainly didn’t hurt DK as they went public.
Sportsbooks may slowly reopen physical operations across the East Coast. Pittsburgh-area casinos are slated to open around June 12, while nothing has been finalized for those in eastern PA like Rivers Casino (formerly SugarHouse) and Parx. Atlantic City is targeting a reopen for the Fourth of July weekend. However, the surge in online options gives players more flexibility and comfort in these trying times.
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Growing appetite for sports to wager on
Players have not been just sitting idly while the big leagues have been dormant. PointsBet said restart events have brought tremendous handle. UFC 249 last month saw the most action for any MMA card, including Conor McGregor’s return at UFC 246 earlier this year. The Real Heroes 400, NASCAR’s first event since the shutdown, outperformed the Daytona 500, one of the biggest days in auto racing.
“We expect similar results when leagues like the NHL and NBA are able to resume, as there is no doubt about sports bettors’ current appetite for content,” the company said.
Johnny Avello at DraftKings has seen the company do well with “obscure offerings,” from table tennis to freeroll pools. They have also seen strong responses to the return of MMA and other North American sports. The Tiger Woods/Peyton Manning vs. Phil Mickelson/Tom Brady golf match created the biggest handle of betting on the sport, including major tournaments. Avello said he was “pretty excited about the upcoming schedule” with the return of the “big four” leagues.
Since legal betting spread to more states in 2018, August has become a build-up month. The return of the NFL means lots of future bets and game action for the preseason. Players start to shift their focus from baseball. This year, there might be multiple sports going on throughout the day, which could fuel customers making more bets daily and trying multi-leg parlays and other exotics.
The later restarts could create record handles for September 2020. More markets mean more local action. Should the Flyers and 76ers survive into the second half of the playoffs, that will drive a lot of business in New Jersey, currently the top handle state in the East, and Pennsylvania – the state considered to be the closest rival. Either state could overtake Nevada, which hasn’t happened during football season. Such a result could embolden states like New York, California and others – who desperately need sustainable revenue sources to forward legislation to allow sports betting.