New updates on the Coronavirus spread in the UK have caused some major disruptions across the whole country as major sporting events continue to be cancelled. As of last week the Premier League was cancelled and now this year’s Grand National and UEFA European Football Championship (Euros) events have been officially cancelled too.
Originally due to take place in April of this year, the Grand National has been called off completely amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, with an official statement saying “it is no longer appropriate to stage the event” and that “Public health must come first.” Any plans to run the races behind closed doors have been called off too, meaning no betting can take place.
It’s not just the Grand National though, as all horse racing events have now been suspended until the end of April. Luckily for football fans, the Euros has not been totally cancelled. However the quadrennial tournament has been postponed until June 2021 instead. This is a good move by the organisers as the last thing the world needs right now is more large, public congregations.
Public health aside, what do these cancellations mean for gamblers and the gambling industry as a whole? Well, for starters with no major football or horse racing events to bet on there are sure to be thousands of gamblers who either won’t have any sport to bet on or will have to turn to whatever obscure international football league that sportsbook betting sites like PaddyPower or Unibet are pushing.
The problem with this is that with no prior knowledge of, lets say, the Argentinian Reserves Leagues, if you choose to bet on those games because they’re the only ones still available to you then you’ll end up betting blindly, which could lose you more money. Try to do a bit of background research before placing your bets if you must bet on unfamiliar football!
Many sportsbook sites are opting to push sports like snooker, table tennis and even chess! Even e-Sports like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends are getting a push right now as sites scramble to give gamblers events they can bet on in the wake of these traditional sports events cancellations, but who knows how many more could be announced in the coming weeks. It's also good to remember, if you can't bet on your normal sport then it might be a good idea to simply not bet at all! With the current uncertainty in the world, perhaps saving your money in case of emergency is the best way to go.
For the gambling industry however, these cancellations could prove catastrophic. With no major sporting events to bet on and nothing planned to replace them, bookmakers could see hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost revenue. It’s not even been a week since Cheltenham ended and the front pages of betting sites are looking bleak.
During William Hill’s financial report for 2019, the gambling industry giant reported a reduction in revenue that coincided with the introduction of the £2 stake limit on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Lucky for the business, William Hill was able to make up that revenue with an increase in the sports betting side of things. With major sports betting effectively out of the window across the board this year, chances are we’ll see some damaging financial figures over the next year or so, especially as UK MPs push to introduce the £2 stake limit on online gambling sites too.
How the Coronavirus will continue to affect the gambling industry is currently unknown, as many sportsbook casino sites may start pushing players to their slots or online bingo instead.