In this dark age of the coronavirus, sports gamblers are left searching the ends of the earth for any sign of sports. Among the exotic offerings the pandemic has not canceled: soccer in Burundi and Belarus, basketball in Tajikistan, and professional darts. Yes, darts.
New Jersey sports columnist Steve Politi said he put $20 on a Russian table tennis match last week out of boredom and to scratch a gambling itch that March Madness would’ve normally scratched. After placing his bet online on a sport he knew little about, Politi spent the next hour on the edge of his couch watching his guy Oleg return smacks from Dmitry. “When you’re stuck indoors all day, you’ll try anything to kill a little time,” he told me over email.
Politi describes himself as an occasional gambler and says he knows his limits. But anti-addiction advocates and counselors predict problem gamblers will struggle during the coronavirus pandemic, when money is tight and obscure sports rule the day.
Overall, the coronavirus pandemic has pounded the sports gambling industry, with states temporarily closing both casinos and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks to prevent virus spread. Gamblers can still place bets online, but states saw a steep drop in wagers: New Jersey sportsbook bets totaled $187 million in March, down from $372 million in March 2019.
When you’re stuck indoors all day, you’ll try anything to kill a little time.
Before the coronavirus canceled sports, sports betting itself was going viral across the United States. In the two years since the Supreme Court