Let’s talk pingpong. Better yet, let’s talk about table tennis. You never want to offend the professionals who take this stuff seriously.
And, you know what is serious? The amount of money being wagered by American gamblers on professional table tennis in Eastern European leagues.
“If you had asked me that question two weeks ago, ‘What are people betting on?’ and the answer was table tennis, I would have asked you what planet you are living on,” said Johnny Avello, the head of DraftKings Sportsbook. “I am absolutely shocked by the amount of money being wagered on this sport.”
Welcome to April in the world of legal US sports betting, where the worldwide coronavirus pandemic had shuttered virtually all American sports along with leagues across Europe, Asia and Australia.
Do you want to bet on golf, basketball, baseball, football, etc.? Those markets are still open, but only for futures betting.
Do you want action on something that can produce a payout immediately? Table tennis is the thing.
“We’ve been very encouraged by the level of interest,” said Patrick Eichner at PointsBet Sportsbook. “There are a lot of matches going on every day, and you watch these players and the ridiculous things they can do in a game that most of us have played recreationally, and it’s something else.”
The most competitive table tennis leagues are based in Russia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine, and the matches can be streamed live on setka.cup.com. American television networks have not yet picked up on the phenomenon, but do not be surprised if that changes due to the dearth of live sports programming out there at the moment.
Matches are best-of-five, and in-game wagering options include who will win any given match, who will win any given game, and how many individual games will be played in any given match.
“Typically, the over/under on games is 4.5, and the over/under on total points might be something like 82.5,” Avello said.
Yes, table tennis is thriving. But although the American, Western European and Australian sports landscapes may currently look like vast wastelands (Aussie rules football and rugby were shuttered because of the virus), there is a lot more to wager on than many people may realize.
Current legal sports betting options
|Baseball||MLB||Futures (World Series)||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Baseball||Chinese Professional League||Single-game odds||TBD|
|Basketball||NBA||NBA Draft, Futures||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Basketball||WNBA||WNBA Draft, Futures||FanDuel, BetMGM, Sugarhouse|
|Basketball||Chinese Taipei||Single-game odds||DraftKings|
|Basketball||NCAA||Futures||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Boxing||WBA||Single-match odds||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Cricket||ICC T20 World Cup||Futures||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Cycling||Tour de France||Futures||FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Darts||Modus Icons||Single-match odds||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Darts||PDC Darts||Futures||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Football||NFL||NFL Draft, NFL Futures||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Football||NCAA||Futures (NCAA title, Heisman)||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Golf||PGA Tour||Futures (majors outrights)||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Hockey||Belarusian Extraleague||Single-game odds||TBD|
|Hockey||Ukrainian Hockey League||Single-game odds||TBD|
|Horse Racing||N/A||Single-race odds||TVG, FanDuel Racebook|
|Motor Sports||Formula 1||Futures, iRacing||DraftKings, BetMGM, PointsBet, SugarHouse, and more|
|Motor Sports||NASCAR||eNASCAR||DraftKings, BetMGM, PointsBet, SugarHouse, and more|
|Rugby||World Cup 2021||Futures||BetMGM, PointsBet|
|Rugby||Rugby Union||Futures||BetMGM, PointsBet|
|Soccer||World Cup||Futures||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Soccer||Euro 2021||Futures||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Soccer||First-Tier Leagues||Single-game odds||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Tennis||ATP, WTA||Futures||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Table Tennis||Moscow Liga Pro||Single-match odds||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
|Table Tennis||Setka Cup||Single-match odds||DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more|
The NFL Draft is two weekends away, and that is where sportsbooks are also seeing significant action – although not at the level they see with pingpong.
PointsBet says it continues to take plenty of action on NFL prop bets, both those related to the draft and to those related to individual player over/unders for the upcoming season (if there is one).
March Madness was canceled, but there is always next year. Baylor and Gonzaga are co-favorites at +800 to win the NCAA Championship.
Soccer and hockey in Belarus have been mainstays atop the US sportsbooks. Basketball is being played or is about to resume in a number of far-flung places: Australia, Argentina, Barbados, Belarus, Brazil, China, France, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and Russia.
The Chinese Professional Baseball league is up and running (and Wuhan is back to normal, offering hope for all shuttered Americans), and futures wagering is available on both NASCAR and Formula 1.
Golf wagering is also futures-oriented because the schedule has been thrown into complete disarray because of the coronavirus. Same with tennis, where Wimbledon has been canceled, and it is unknown if New York City will be recovered enough in order to hold the US Open in September as per usual.
Soccer leagues are up and running in Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Fiji, Ghana, Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa and Uruguay, and we all can look forward to the 2022 World Cup.
The horses are still running at Gulfstream Park in Florida and several other tracks around the world and you can bet on all of them at TVG and FanDuel Racebook. The Kentucky Derby will not be held until Sept. 5. (Heck, it may be competing with Game 7 of the NBA Finals for all we know.)
Esports and virtual sports have their niche audiences who gamble regularly, and as far as niche sports go, the following have all been approved by the New Jersey DGE and might find their way to a legal US sportsbook soon:
- Lawn darts
- Indian Premier League Cricket
- First-Tier Handball (Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine)
- First-Tier Volleyball (Turkey and Russia)
And then we have darts, which is getting action at the books, too. And who would not want to spend some time in a packed arena watching players try for Triple 20s while simultaneously drinking beer and competing for major prize pools?
When will the major sports leagues be back?
Look, folks, the conventional sports world will come back to life eventually.
Yes, this waiting game is excruciating, and with Coronovirus forecasts changing by the day, all that the major pro sports leagues can do is watch, wait and make as many contingency plans as possible.
But let’s assume that the NBA Finals will eventually happen. The Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers are still the favorites. Who knows which injured players might be ready to compete; the NBA does not play its postseason until July. Heck, the Brooklyn Nets might be pretty good if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are available, and they are currently listed at +6600 at DraftKings.
The defending champion Toronto Raptors, who will have Marc Gasol back at full strength, are +1800. Lest we forget, they currently have the NBA’s longest winning streak – four games.
Major League Baseball may end up playing a significant portion of its season in Arizona, even playing seven-inning doubleheaders. Still, October will eventually arrive, and someone will be the champion. Boston Red Sox fans can get their team at +3500 right now.
In the NFL, the New York Jets will always be the “Same Old Jets” until they win a championship for the first time since 1969, but they do have a heck of a quarterback in Sam Darnold, and you can bet on the over/under on his passing touchdowns at 23.5.
“Basically, all of the player props for skill position guys are seeing good action from pros and joes alike,” Eichner said.
Jameis Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards last season. He has been replaced in Tampa Bay by Tom Brady, and he will eventually sign somewhere (you can bet on that legally, too) Eventually, he will have a passing yardage over/under.
The New York Giants will someday realize that the key to their future success is the running of Saquon Barkley, who gained only 1,003 yards on the ground last season. His rushing yardage over/under for next season is 1,300. And now that Eli Manning is gone and a new coach is in place, perhaps Big Blue will go back to what worked so well in the past.
In the meantime
Since many of us are passing the time watching television, there are free wagers available on DraftKings regarding the outcomes of Real Housewives, Top Chef and Shark Tank.
DraftKings is even offering free wagers on whether the predicted temperature for the day will be under or over.
“Look, not everybody has a ton of disposable income right now,” Avello said, but people can still play for free and keep their minds off of what is going on. “We’re getting as creative as we ever have.”
Like a well-played table tennis shot, Avello is putting a good spin on a tough situation.
Hang tough, folks. The world we used to know and wager on will return. The over/under on when that day might arrive is about as certain as the next roll of toilet paper. Right now, it is probably stuck on a truck on an interstate, but someone will eventually unpack it and sell it. Charmin ain’t going under, OK?
So let’s get through this. And if wagering is your thing, there is no shortage of options.