The impact of the Covid 19 pandemic is being felt across many areas of the economy, and the betting sector in the UK is likely to be hard hit over the next few weeks.
According to some reports in the UK media, UK bookmakers have already lost €2.2 billion following the cancellation of a string of high profile events. Earlier this week, the NBA announced that it was suspending all games, just a matter of weeks before the start of the play-offs, which traditionally see a lot of betting business. At this point, it is not clear whether the NBA season will eventually resume, but a number of other events have simply been cancelled, including the Miami Open and the Australian Grand Prix, which was called off shortly before the start of the first practice session.
But the cancellations that the bookies will be dreading are in the European football competitions. At the time of writing, Spain’s top football division, La Liga, has called a halt to all matches for the next two weeks, and it is being widely reported that UEFA are likely to suspend games in the two most important tournaments on the continent, the Champions League and the Europa League. It has also been suggested that the summer’s Euro 2020 tournament could also be postponed, as the format for this year’s event, which involves games being played in a number of different countries, could prove impractical at a time when health experts are advising against travel.
And unlike the casino sector, where reduced footfall at casino venues may be offset by more customers playing online from their homes, sports betting companies face a double blow of reduced custom at retail shops and a significant drop in online business as customers are unable to bet on their favourite sports.
Not surprisingly, shares in a number of the UK’s leading bookmakers have already fallen sharply this week and that is a trend that is likely to continue over the next few weeks.