Betting in the Age of Coronavirus

Without sports, what’s a degenerate gambler to do?

Times are tough for everybody, but it’s downright impossible to run a sportsbook with no sports to handicap. New York Magazine reports that with most international sports postponed or cancelled, online sportsbooks are taking drastic measures to generate whatever handle they can, offering lines on obscure international sports in less-afflicted areas and even the weather.

Beyond their obvious attempts to lure degenerate basketball gamblers into betting on simulated games of NBA 2K, there’s a certain pleasure in betting on things that nobody should ever bet on. I still think I got a very good price on the Arizona Hotshots to win the AAF championship. In the absence of brick and mortar casinos or recognizable sports, I’ve begun following the odds on Turkish soccer, Australian basketball, and Ukrainian table tennis. (As you probably know by now, Dmytro Alekseenko vs. Ivan Kozyr in the TT Cup was a 15-13 classic–and then the weary Alekseenko turned right around and beat Anton Veliiev 11-8! Absolutely legendary stuff.)

In the absence of mainstream sports betting, online poker is experiencing a remarkable boom, at least in states and countries where it’s legal. The March 22 edition of the PokerStars Sunday Million broke a nearly decade-old record with over 88,000 entries and a $15,000,000 prize pool, and the other big Sunday tournaments also saw huge numbers of entrants this week. At least for the time being, the online poker world seems like it’s reliving the glory days before Black Friday in 2011.

For the non-poker player, there’s a raft of action being offered on wacky specials and entertainment bets: there’s no betting on Jeopardy! at the moment (and, in fact, the show has temporarily shut down production like everything else), but it seems like you can get a line on just about anything, as long as it isn’t an actual sport. Here are some highlights.

Pornhub visits in March 2020 (BetOnline):

Over 3 billion -320

Under 3 billion +210

This seems like easy money. In 2019 there were 42 billion visits to Pornhub, for an average of 3.5 billion per month. This line opened at -140 and already shot up to -320 in 24 hours. Whether you like your porno in blurry 240p or crystal-clear 4K, what else have you got to do in this time of quarantine? Read?

Clorox stock price on March 31 close (BetOnline):

Under 200 US dollars -130

Over 200 US dollars   -110

Betting on whether Clorox’s stock price will be over or under $200 on March 31 is the domain of total perverts, even more so than betting on Pornhub page views. If you’re that hellbent on gambling on the future of the makers of Fresh Step kitty litter and Hidden Valley Ranch, just buy call or put options! You won’t even have to pay a vig. Stay away from this and all other stock price-based lines unless you really feel like getting a visit from the SEC.

NASCAR iRacing

The inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series began on Sunday, with Denny Hamlin edging out Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to win the Dixie Vodka 150 on a virtual version of Homestead-Miami Speedway. iRacing is an incredibly detailed simulation of stock car racing, with laser-scanned tracks and elaborate, expensive driving rigs. In addition to e-sports, drivers use it to train and sharpen their skills in the offseason. In the absence of physical racing, NASCAR has announced plans to run a virtual iRacing series for the next few weeks, and many of the sport’s top drivers have signed up to battle their lesser-known e-sports rivals.

Although the Nevada Gaming Commission approvedoddsmaking for the series on short notice, Hamlin took it upon himself to set his own lines before the race. Notably, he installed himself as only the sixth favorite at 6-1, with the shortest odds, 3-2, going to Ty Majeski, a minor league racer in NASCAR’s truck series. On virtual asphalt, Majeski is the best in the world, the winner of 914 iRaces in 1200 career starts. Stay tuned.

Westworld Season 3: Who Will Perish Next? (Bovada):

G +160

Liam +200

Ash +300

William +1500

Maeve +2000

Charlotte +2500

Delores +2500

Bernard +3000

Caleb +4500

The obvious bet here is G, unless Marshawn Lynch is extremely dedicated to his craft. For a longshot curveball, what about William at +1500? Just about everybody on Westworld would have a pretty good motive. (Pour one out for Drogon.)

Which major airline will announce they are filing for bankruptcy first? (Bovada):

American +175

Delta +250

United +250

Southwest +500

With flight attendants in revolt, plummeting stock values, and the emergency deployment of some dude named Kurt Stache, American seems like it’s in deep trouble, even by the standards of its peers. Not even a steady commitment to Biscoff, unlike some of their rivals, may save an august American institution.

Will there be a global Netflix outage in the next 30 days? (Bovada):

Yes +2000

No -10000

This proposition might as well be “Will there be worldwide anarchy and rioting in the streets?” Don’t even joke about this shit until I finish Tiger King.

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Daniel Cohen

Daniel Cohen is a software developer who lives in Syracuse, New York. He has written for Yard Work, The Guardian, and Maura Magazine.

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