Sports

Sports Gamblers Are Wagering on Some Ridiculous Things Amid Coronavirus

ESPN2 has resorted to covering National Puppy Day like it's the Super Bowl.
ESPN2 has resorted to covering National Puppy Day like it's the Super Bowl. Courtesy of Miami-Dade Animal Services
We're now entering uncharted territory when it comes to life without sports, and there's no indication they'll be back anytime soon. March Madness is canceled. The NBA and NHL seasons are likely lost, forever an outlier in the record books with no postseason champions declared. The MLB season certainly is at least a month away, if not much longer. The NCAA and NFL football leagues are even rumored to be bracing themselves for delays, if not total cancellations, and their seasons are still months away.

The struggle is real, especially for those who gamble on sports. It's caused them to — let's just say — get creative when it comes to scratching their betting itches. Things have started to get weird.
Recently, FanDuel — a daily fantasy sports company that allows some fans in certain states to bet on sports — let players place bets on phrases or words that would be uttered in the Democratic debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Think of the contests exactly as you would a fantasy football league, only instead of a touchdown, Sanders saying "Trump" or Biden mentioning coronavirus are worth points.

This is where we are. What a time, huh? It actually gets weirder. So, so much weirder.
In light of things going on in the U.S., fans are going underground, betting on events such as the KHL Russian Hockey League, Turkish and Mexican soccer leagues, and virtual horse racing. You read that correctly — people are actually placing wagers on computerized horse races. People are betting on television shows such as Survivor and The Bachelor. These things are really happening.

Bovada, a sportsbook company based in Costa Rica, has even resorted to the ridiculous betting equivalent of watching grass grow: It's taking bets on the maximum temperatures in various cities around the country. It's like roulette, only with climate change.


According to BetOnWeather.io co-founder Jesse Rowe, betting on the weather might be here to stay. "Even when major sports do return, we think we'll still be standing because let's face it, people are more likely to guess their local temperature correctly than a Browns football game coming this fall," Rowe told CNBC.

Until recently, some fans had turned to Australian football, also known as rugby, to get their fix. That avenue was quickly closed as Australia saw a spike in COVID-19 cases Saturday. Sports bettors really can't buy a bucket right now.
It's slim pickings for hot sports-betting action. ESPN is airing fictitious The Ocho content, popularized by the Ben Stiller movie Dodgeball. ESPN2 has resorted to covering National Puppy Day like it's the Super Bowl, and we're not at all sure there won't be gambling involved. In fact, we sort of hope there is.

We sports fans are all in this together, but completely apart. Every bit of sports content is being treated like an ounce of gold. Desperate times call for embarrassingly desperate measures. Hopefully when things go back to normal, so too will the gambling world. 
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi