Skip to main content

How the coronavirus impacts betting, daily fantasy sports

Matt Johnson

The coronavirus pandemic has left the sports world in uncharted territory with the indefinite suspension of the NBA, MLB and NHL seasons along with the cancelation of March Madness.

It all comes at a time when sports betting is becoming accessible to more people and daily fantasy sports gains popularity. Now with the most popular in-season sports on hiatus and the most popular event for betting now gone, the impacts from the coronavirus have shaken sports betting and DFS.

The impact on in-season betting

Both the NBA and NHL season were suspended amid races for playoff spots, with many fans invested both for their own team and financially. The indefinite hold on the seasons now wipes out daily fantasy contests.

When the NBA suspended its action on March, with games still going on, DraftKings and FanDuel each announced they would void and refund all bets on canceled games. Both betting sites also refunded contest entries for the EuroLeague season, the ongoing XFL season, along with the PGA Tour and NASCAR.

FanDuel and DraftKings are still allowing fans to compete in League of Legends, MMA and the English Premier League contests. Furthermore, any futures bet on end-of-season results will still be held until the respective leagues make announcements regarding the return of their seasons.

The giant of March Madness falls

The loss of March Madness this year will be felt everywhere. Not just by programs missing out on a title run and by the NCAA suffering a financial hit, but gambling sites and casinos will suffer as well.

  • More than 47 million Americans bet more than $8 million each year on March Madness, per Forbes.
  • Nevada sportsbooks won $36.5 million on basketball bets in March 2019 off nearly $500 million in wagers, per Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  • New Jersey received $372 million in sports bets in 2019 and noq expects that to drop to $50-$70 million this year, per The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Now with sports betting becoming legalized and greater access to it throughout the country, casinos and online gambling sites would have seen even more customers and bets placed than ever before.

Multiple states, including Illinois and Michigan, were excited to tap into the sports betting industry this year and opened before March Madness to take advantage of it. Instead, the cancellation of one of the biggest events in sports will cost tens of millions in dollars.

An uncertain future

The loss of the NCAA Tournament is an overwhelming blow for casinos and the sports betting industry, but the consequences go further beyond that. We simply don’t know when there will be some form of control over the coronavirus and with that uncertainty brings the indefinite suspensions of top leagues back into focus.

We might not see the MLB season return until May and NBA commissioner Adam Silver indicated the NBA Finals could realistically be pushed back until July. Meanwhile, the NHL wants to exercise extreme caution and also must deal with what happens to the hockey rinks as the weather heats up.

At the very least, sports fans might have to go through the next two months without basketball, baseball and hockey. While the 2020 NFL Draft is still scheduled for April 23-26, even that experience could be different depending on what safety protocols are taken.

Everyone will be feeling the impact of this for months to come. From those at the top of the sports world to your average fan, this is an unprecedented time. Whereas we’d normally have sports as an escape that’s going on around us, even that is now gone.