COVID has hit the world hard, and the waves of the pandemic could be felt across all sporting events. Both the NFL and the NHL have taken drastic measures to ensure that all players are safeguarded. Playing behind closed doors was imposed and their restrictions worked wonders with nobody from both leagues testing positive.
The MLB took a different approach, which unfortunately did not turn out to be fruitful. The players were allowed to interact and move from one stadium to another. Some of the teams have missed a substantial amount of games. Both the Phillies and Marlins missed 8 games, The Cardinals have missed a whopping 9 games, the Brewers missed 4 games just like the Orioles. Both the NY Yankees and the Tigers missed 3 games each. The MLB suffered the consequences of a laissez-faire approach. We can all agree that the notion of ‘we will keep going no matter what’ has seen players get sick and top teams lose important matches.
The NFL took a backseat and witnessed many other sporting leagues to see how the events play out. The league also made sure that a few games would be canceled and the safety of the players is a paradigm. The key was to have players from both the bench and NFL regulars play games when a game rings in. One of the key takeaways for the NFL is to look at what the NBA and other basketball leagues did and learn from these mistakes. The League is not taking the bubble stance that the MBL took. If we compare the 2 sports, baseball is not much of a contact sport as football is. Football can see the spread of the virus quicker with players tackling one another constantly on the pitch. If just 1 player tests positive, even the training grounds would need to be closed off, fumigated, sanitized and will eventually not be available for the August training schedule.
NFL players were given the option if they would like to partake in the 2020 league or not, and up to us bringing you this article, 56 had already opted out. Other players are not big fans of this untimely decision, yet health will always be a priority to players. The NFL season is set to start off pretty soon, but what happens if it does not? Well, bookies and sportsbook sites alike will not be too pleased that is for sure. We have already seen sports sites suffer the consequences of the cancellation of many sporting events such as the World Cup and Euro, Grand Nationals, and more. If the NFL is canceled, we will not have the usual 4 months of football season with playoffs and the SuperBowl. How disastrous will that be?
The Impact of no NFL
Pushing the Odds broadcaster Matt Perrault warned that if the NFL will not resume, the world of sports betting will face a standstill. Perrault continued that the NFL and the betting it generates is key to the success of many platforms across the country. The broadcaster mentioned that if the NFL comes to a standstill, so will the expansion of sports betting across the US. We would see new license applications being halted and Vegas would need to re-evaluate its position as a potential sports betting hub. Some jobs and other potential jobs that were in the pipeline could be also lost. If just 1 season of the NFL does not go ahead as normally planned, this would shake up the betting industry for the next 1 to 5 years. And this is putting things mildly, mentioned the podcaster. Perrault stressed that the season could see the NBA, gold, UFC fights with big names, yet all these combined together as a whole revenue, would not even come close to the money in sports betting that the NFL draws. Just to put you in the picture of how much money is generated from the NFL especially in Vegas, September 2019 was a full month of college and NFL and a total of $377.5 million was wagered on the NFL from a total of $546.4 million. So, how will the betting industry survive such a loss? Unfortunately, it will not.
When it comes to the Garden State of New Jersey, football is not effectively the biggest sport that is bet on, however, it still drives a chunk of the betting revenue generated. In September 2019, the NFL season generated a solid 188.6 million from the 445.6 million wagered. In simple Maths, a 42 % chunk of the total amount.
Bookies are confident the season will resume …
In a year where all of our plans have gone up and smoke, bookies are quite confident that the NFL season will resume. Sports media personality and frontlines Kelly Stewart echoed the shame thought that Perrault shares. The ‘Kelly in Vegas’ star believes the NFL will defy all the odds and we will all get the season that we long for.
Stewart stressed that in the US a total of 19 states and currently in the process of legally being granted a license. Most of these future operators are mobile sports betting sites, sites that people go-to for a special NFL betting treat. Some of these sites will follow the same framework that Nevada offers, whilst the others will go for the New Jersey approach to betting. Both will offer mobile sites and apps that offer 1 tap bets. And we can all agree, you might not be a fan of the NFL, but you would have definitely have heard of the Super Bowl, maybe joined a friend’s Bowl party and indulged into some sports betting. Each state benefits from the NFL, but the Super Bowl bets drive a great amount of money!
Some of the biggest gambling pillars include Bet365 and William Hill also see substantial growth on their sites with the NFL. With some of these sites have suffered harshly and still reaping the aftermath of Covid-19, the lack of NFL would be the final nail in the coffin. If the NFL does not kick off this year, we could potentially witness some of the big names closing their doors in the United Kingdom and beyond. Stewart highlighted that many jobs have been lost during this world pandemic, and more could be at risk if no NFL revenue is brought in.
Yet both Stewart and many other bookies remain optimistic. It is still early days, and as the virus spike continues, odds and bookmakers alike hope that the sport and the Health measures introduced could eventually see the NFL season happening. Everyone agrees that if the NL does not resume, this could be the beginning of the end for sports gambling in the US. Vegas, legalized states, and also offshore markets will see a big hit, even bigger than the one experienced at the start of this pandemic, and job losses will see an even bigger spike than the actual pandemic itself.
Could the NFL develop and thrive in a pandemic free bubble?
The US has suffered vastly throughout this pandemic, and as numbers are always on the rise, so are the bubbles across many sports. A safe bubble with sports played behind doors is needed to ensure that players are kept safe and healthy. This is also the only way to make sure that a COVID outbreak is eliminated. Following the MBL’s bubble approach, the only way that the NFL can thrive and have a great fruitful season is indeed with a bubble.
Having said that, it would be rather impossible to tell 32 teams with ample team members to isolate themselves for a total of 5 whole months, staying away from their loved ones and focusing on the game. Maybe this is the reason that some of the big names in the NFL have already dropped out of the season?
So how will the bubble look for the NFL …well if implemented?
In total there would be 4 bubbles that consist of 8 teams each. The course of this bubble would last a total of seven weeks. During the 7-week bubble approach, each team would play the other 7 teams in the bubble. The stadiums in the bubble will all be available, but if there is only 1 stadium available, this means that the said stadium would host up to 4 games a week. Healthy? Not so much, and fingers crossed for the NFL that an outbreak is contained. Games are normally played 2 on a Saturday and 2 on a Sunday and players will also get a 2-week break at the end or during the bubble season to spend with their loved ones. This bubble will belong to the NFC East and AFC East teams.
Following the 1st successful bubble, it would now be time for the second bubble to take center stage, and this time it is time for the NFC East and NFC South. At the end of the bubble, each team would have enjoyed the thrills of 14 games with six of the games facing division rivals. A well-deserved break then following the games, this time only for a week before the playoffs. Forget the traditional NFL season, as this season is all about survival, and players would need to have several swab tests. Only those testing negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to play.
We all know that this is not an ideal scenario, this is not the traditional NFL season that we are all hoping for, but this is the only way to enjoy a semi season. It is ideal for sports betting sites and operators alike? Definitely not, but the pandemic is not going away any time soon, and this the new normal for us all. This is the way forward if we want an NFL season to go ahead, and we look forward to betting on it.