As Covid Hits NFL, Bettors May Need to Follow Table Tennis
(Bloomberg) -- The Covid-19 surge that’s throwing professional and college sports schedules into disarray may also disrupt holiday-season plans for sports bettors -- unless they are really, really into table tennis.
The National Basketball Association said Sunday it postponed five games this week. At least three National Football League games for Week 15 were postponed. The National Hockey League has had at least 20 games postponed this season, including Saturday’s match between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. Six Premier League matches were scratched this weekend, and officials have called a meeting to discuss preemptive postponement of future matches, Athletic UK reported.
Just like the leagues left scrambling as players test positive or teams quarantine, sports-betting companies are making backup plans in case their business models need adjusting.
The situation doesn’t help companies like DraftKings Inc. or Flutter Entertainment Plc, both of whose shares have fallen all but a handful of times on a weekly basis since mid-September. Almost half of the Premier League’s 20 teams have gambling companies advertising on the front of their jerseys. DraftKings shares fell 1.9% before the start of regular trading Monday in New York, while Flutter dropped 3.7% in Dublin.
“We have markets on things all the time -- tennis, horse racing, even lower-tier things like table tennis,” said Chris Jones, a spokesman for FanDuel, a division of Flutter. “We’ll adjust accordingly and with two years’ experience dealing with the pandemic, we’ll elevate events still occurring.”
The cancellations -- and prospects dimming as the omicron variant spreads in the U.S. and U.K. -- could hardly come at a worse time. Professional football teams are nearing playoffs, and college football teams are headed into post-season bowl games. Pro basketball teams are at the beginning of their season with back-to-back games scheduled.
Leagues have moved quickly to introduce new masking and other Covid-safety protocols. The NFL implemented policy changes last week, only to swiftly introduce even more protocols after this weekend’s games. They include “a more targeted testing plan, more flexibility for players to attend meetings virtually and also a high-risk player opt-out for the remainder of the season,” the NFL said in a statement.
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