How The Legal Sports Betting Industry Changed In 2020


  • The sports betting market suffered early in 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic shutting down major sports from playing.
  • Online sports betting grew in popularity with people being forced to stay home.
  • Multiple sporting leagues running simultaneously led to increases in sports betting revenue.

WASHINGTONThe year 2020 has turned out to be one of the most interesting years for legal sports betting. The year began with major losses for sportsbooks across the board but ended with some of the biggest gains of all time.

Most of what affected legal sports betting was due to the COVID-19 global pandemic that affected the entire world. This resulted in sporting events and leagues being canceled or postponed and then returning all around the same time.

In addition, a rise in esports betting and virtual sports betting is a bioproduct of the interesting year of legal sports betting in 2020.

League Shut Downs

When multiple major leagues were forced to shut down due to the pandemic, sports betting came to an abrupt standstill.

Many online sportsbooks were forced to freeze their books as no games were available to be wagered on. Sports betting markets saw major losses in sports betting revenue as local residents had no way of betting on their favorite teams.

“This is crazy,” said Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks when he heard about the NBA shutting down. “This can’t be true. I mean, it’s not within the realm of possibility. It seemed more like out of a movie than reality.”

In addition to the NBA shutting down, the NCAA March Madness Tournament was canceled, and the XFL season was canceled as well, leading to the league filing for bankruptcy.

There were almost no professional sporting events taking place, as tennis and soccer leagues around the world were also forced to shut down due to the pandemic.

Sports bettors who had an itch for betting on sports, however, were not completely left out in the water. A rise in esports betting occurred during this period, as bettors needed a competitive event to wager on.

What was initially viewed as a niche platform for competition, was gaining more attention from a bettor, which major sportsbooks recognized.

Esports Sportsbooks

Esports betting was catapulted into the mainstream sports betting arena following the shutdowns of major leagues. Once sports betting operators saw the draw of esports, the trajectory for the niche gaming league expanded.

Now, major casino and gaming operators are with esports leagues. There is even a new esports-only sportsbook in the works.

The future for esports betting is now a brighter one as esports took the reigns for the earlier months in 2020. Esports possibly would not have gotten as popular to bettors if not for the temporary shutdowns in 2020.

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