Corralling us into fearful hand-washing, never before in contemporary history has humanity been so universally affected by a pandemic like coronavirus. If that comes across as trite, you know that we mean it sincerely. You know because you are affected and we know that because everyone is affected. One industry that is currently feeling the effects of everything coming to a halt is the gambling industry. Sporting events are being cancelled left, right, and centre in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. In soccer, the major European leagues like the Premier League and La Liga have come to a halt as have big cup competitions like the UEFA Champions League. It has been the same story across the board when it comes to the other major sports. Fans of US sports have no NBA, no MLB, no NHL. This is bad news for bookmakers as they depend on those sports to fuel business. The impact of this loss of business has been highlighted by the crashing share prices of major bookmakers in the last few days.
According to the Racing Post, gambling operator share prices have taken a severe hit, one of the many casualties of the ongoing stock market pandemonium. They write: “William Hill shares were down more than 24 per cent on Thursday at 92.48p, having more than halved in price since being 192.4p on February 21. Shares in GVC Holdings, the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, were down around 20 per cent at 519.4p. Shares in Paddy Power Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment were down 15.45 per cent at 6,700p. Meanwhile, shares in gambling technology company Playtech, which has an Italian retail business Snaitech where betting shops have been closed until next month by government decree, fell by more than 15 per cent to 176.65p.”
The closure of public spaces has extended to bookmakers in countries severely affected, like Italy. The closure is in place until April 3, which is the earliest projection for the reopening of these spaces. It is understood that this is a best-case scenario and that the ban will probably remain in place after that date. This will give a further push to online betting, not that it necessarily needed the act-of-God assistance. Punters will have the option of betting on their phones and may be more inclined to have a flutter if they are seeking endorphins while in quarantine. Of course, many of the sporting events that they would usually bet on will have been cancelled or postponed. Bookmakers appear to be still taking bets on outright winners of competitions but the individual fixtures of said competitions may not be available to bet on as this pandemic has thrown schedules out of whack. A lot of it is up in the air.
It’s a depressing state of emergency to live through yet the coming months promise to be fascinating. In terms of betting, what we may predict is that emerging markets unaffected by coronavirus will receive a sort of boom. Esports is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and it can be played under quarantine-like conditions. We would imagine that this will catch the eye of punters on the lookout for a new sport to invest in. Virtual sports are also likely to get a range of customers as a consequence of this situation. Online casinos could also be subject to a greater number of visitors. We would advise anyone gambling under these conditions to do so responsibly. If you wish to see your options for bookmakers, check out Wincomparator’s rankings.