- The sports world is starting to come back to life after an international shutdown due to COVID-19.
- Bookmakers and bettors have become very creative during the shutdown.
- Sports like table tennis will remain a part of the wagering mix after traditional sports return.
A few weeks ago, I discussed how some of the new additions to the betting board during the COVID-19 pandemic are here to stay. In particular, the breakout sports hit of the Coronavirus lockdown–table tennis. Immediately after the major sports leagues of the world shut down one of the few events remaining on the betting board was Russian and Ukrainian table tennis. At the time, William Hill reported a ‘six figure daily handle’ on table tennis events.
Fast forward to this past weekend and bettors thankfully are seeing some signs of life. The German Bundesliga soccer league is back and many of the other European leagues are working on their return. NASCAR is back in business and ran their first post shutdown race at Darlington on Sunday. The UFC had a big fight card and the NBA, NHL and MLB are in progress of (possibly) putting together a plan to resume their season.
So with all of these more traditional betting sports back on the board where do you think table tennis ranks now? If you said ‘not even on the radar’ you better sit down as you’re in for quite a surprise. While the consensus among Nevada bookmakers is that UFC 249 drew the most action during the weekend table tennis was a solid second and at a couple of books was virtually ‘neck and neck’ with the UFC. NASCAR, soccer and golf were far behind.
The Las Vegas Review Journal spoke to a couple of bookmakers around town and what they had to say was surprising. William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich estimated that there was ‘five times as much money bet on table tennis Sunday than on NASCAR, golf and soccer combined’:
“UFC was No. 1, Russian ping pong was No. 2 and the rest were far, far, far below. It’s just so much bigger than anything else going on on a daily basis,. Every bookmaker I talk to says the same thing. For whatever reason, it draws a ton of action.”
William Hill took close to $1 million (US) in bets on UFC 249. While that sounds good, Bogdanovich continued to say that his book takes nearly a million in action on Russian table tennis daily:
“There’s 100 matches a day and steady action all day long. By the end of the day, it adds up. We didn’t know we’d write that kind of business until we started it. We put up everything — darts, judo, Burundi soccer, esports. They all have the same ability to draw action and haven’t. For whatever reason, they gravitate toward that sport.”
Elsewhere in town, the UFC drew the most action including at the Westgate where director John Murray said they’re currently the ‘bread and butter’ of their wagering menu:
“UFC has really been carrying the book since we reopened (the Westgate mobile app). If it wasn’t for the UFC, there really wouldn’t be a reason for us to be open the last two weeks. Other sports have been tough sledding. I don’t think we’re going to see a big handle number from public players until we see a sport come back like (Major League Baseball).”
There are other signs that table tennis could be a permanent addition to the betting board in addition to the impressive daily handle at William Hill. Many offshore sportsbooks have added it to their betting menu and the sport was recently added to the Don Best live odds screen.