Olympics postponement another blow to sportsbooks

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The decision Tuesday to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan until 2021 had a ripple effect throughout America as it pertained to sports betting.

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Sportsbooks across the country had plans to offer wagering on a full menu of Olympic sports, starting with men’s basketball. But with the books already scrambling to find opportunities for their customers to engage in during the coronavirus pandemic, losing the Olympics was yet another blow.

“It’s a shame,” said Scott Butera of BetMGM. “We would’ve loved to have been able to book the Olympics. We were looking at a lot of events to offer our customers.

“But I think we expected it was going to be postponed, given what we’ve seen from the major sports leagues here (in the U.S.) and other sporting events around the world. It’s another event that went away.”

Chuck Esposito of Station Casinos said it would have been fun to have been able to offer betting on the various Olympic sports.

“I think when it comes to the summer Olympics we were definitely looking to offer basketball but had internal discussions about expanding our wagering menu as well to other sports,” Esposito said. “Based on events all being initially scheduled for the summer, I could have seen an uptick in handle on both basketball and potentially other sports based on the time of year.”

Nick Bogdanovich of William Hill said his staff was well into its research to put lines up on many Olympic events.

“We had already started work on it,” he said. “It’s a shame. I would’ve liked to have seen what it would’ve been like.”

Bogdanovich said with the drought on betting sports continuing, this particular Olympics might have been big business for Willliam Hill and other operators.

“Normally, the Olympics don’t do a lot of business,” he said. “But this Olympics would’ve probably done well because it would be coming off this long drought and people would’ve been jonesing and jonesing for something to bet that they were familiar with.”

Wynn’s Doug Castaneda said: ” The postponement of the Olympics is not as crucial as a major sport possibly being canceled. Of the remaining major sports with hopes of resuming play, any cancellations of those leagues would hit much harder. “ 

More than 11,000 athletes representing 206 nations were scheduled to compete in Tokyo from July 24 through Aug. 9. The extra time will give the books to rethink their strategies and come up with some creative wagers when the Games are contested in 2021.  

“Hopefully, a year from now we can get involved and have even more wagering options,” Butera said.

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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