With Coronavirus putting the world on hold in 2020, what does this mean for the world of sports and betting?
Well, as we know, 99% of sports competitions and tournaments have been cancelled, as there is too much risk of spreading the virus to hold sports events, competitions and races in enclosed (and open air) environments. Sports fans have been left without their most anticipated and beloved leagues and races for months now.
While this puts virtually all sporting industries in a dangerous financial position, this turn of events has led to a rise in online betting and gambling. Many sports fans have turned to following obscure leagues or virtual sports to fill the gap left by the disappearance of horse racing or football. Online betting services such as 888 in play betting offer an easy and entertaining alternative to the live sports that so many have incorporated into their lives and identities.
Although Coronavirus is the first pandemic to put the entire world into lockdown, this isn’t the first time that sports have had to take a back seat while public health issues were sorted out. The foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001 marked the cancellation of all live racing in the UK, including Cheltenham. This was the first time that virtual horse racing started to pop up online. Since then, the virtual market has evolved to include the likes of virtual football, virtual motorsport and virtual cycling.
During this global pandemic, bookies have become incredibly creative, and some even have opened online market polls to decide historical bests, such as the best goals in the Premier League or the most exciting Royal Ascot win. Many companies have even disclosed increases in their revenue from online betting and gambling.
So what’s all the fuss about? Well, firstly, this could signal a major change for the world of sport. If more people get comfortable watching sports online, betting online and are happy to continue to do so, there could be a major footfall when live games and leagues actually do return. Many might even forsake some of their oldest traditions, such as gathering in pubs after matches or having league parties for fear of the virus or simply out of convenience.
People are less likely to go to their local bookies to place bets. With online betting on the rise, this might also trigger an uptake in cryptocurrencies being used for gambling and betting all over the world. Will stadiums no longer be packed out to capacity? Will the support of fans and the electric spirit be simply moved to a more isolated, virtual setting? Time will tell.
Although it is likely that football, horse racing, rugby and other popular sports will return to normal in the near future, we have to acknowledge that a shift has taken place in the way the world works since the beginning of Coronavirus, and we must adapt accordingly. Hopefully we can bring our traditions with us into the new age of virtual sports and altered event guidelines.