With sports cancelled all over the world due to the coronavirus crisis, millions of people have been left needing to find a new hobby.
Very few sports are still being played and it is unclear when major competitions such as the NBA and the Premier League might be able to resume action. Some industries have been hit hard as a result of a knock-on impact of a lack of sports. Among them is the sports betting industry, which has been left with few markets to offer their users.
Some online casinos that accept Skrill also have sportsbooks attached with various new markets being offered on these sites. Betting sites have had to become a lot more creative, with some of them now even allowing people to bet on the weather.
Sports fans are still finding a way to bet, with many turning their attention to online casinos.
Online casinos thriving in lockdown
With land-based casinos shut due to the pandemic – Las Vegas has become a ghost town in the past month – gamblers are having to go online in order to place their bets.
Casino classics such as blackjack and roulette are always among the most popular games to play at online casinos, but sports fans on these sites could be looking elsewhere.
Poker is likely to be an appealing choice due to the mix between luck and skill that the card game offers. Poker is the closest thing to sport that a betting website can offer right now.
Virtual sports have also grown rapidly in popularity during the coronavirus crisis even though they are a pale imitation of the real thing. Virtual football, virtual tennis and virtual motorsport are just some of the options people have been turning to during this period.
Other sports fans have started to take an interest in eSports for the very first time. Previously seen as quite a niche hobby, eSports are poised to break into the mainstream in 2020.
Football stars like England internationals Trent Alexander-Arnold and Raheem Sterling playing games such as FIFA during their lockdown conditions have helped to raise awareness of eSports. People can even bet on the outcome of these matches as if they were real games.
Betting on eSports is still in its infancy but there is no doubt this is going to be a huge part of the gambling industry in the future. The pandemic, which has so far accounted for nearly 150,000 global deaths, might just be the spark needed to light the flame for the world of eSports.
How else can sports fans get their fix?
Many sports fans will be binge-watching movies or TV to get through lockdown, but playing at online casinos is another way for them to fill the time.
There are a lot of sports-related slot games available to play on online casinos, many of which can be accessed in demo mode so there is not even any need to risk real cash on the reels.
Football fans can get their fix with slot games such as Football Star, Football Champions Cup and Football Rules, with tennis and horse racing games also available to play at online casinos.
Some sports are also still continuing – unsurprisingly since the industry was said to be worth $471 billion in 2018 – with horse racing taking place behind closed doors. There is still an active schedule at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, with betting on the races available. Jockeys are being screened for COVID-19 by doctors at the track, while staff members wear gloves and masks.
Other sports are likely to follow suit in resuming without fans being able to attend. These events are likely to be broadcast live on television or streamed through the internet so that spectators can still watch, even if they cannot be there in person due to continued social distancing.
Sport without fans may be far from ideal but it seems set to be the way things are going to be for the foreseeable future. There has even been talk of the new baseball season being played solely at two locations – one in Arizona and one in Florida.
It seems likely the current situation will have a long-lasting impact on sport, but people will no doubt be delighted to see them return to the screen – in whatever form that might be.