Posted in:

Coronavirus – The Impact on NHL and Sportsbook Betting

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus across the globe, an array of sporting events and competitions have been suspended. One well-renowned competition affecting the majority of Europe has been postponed till 2021, as UEFA confirmed that it’s Euro 2020 showpiece had succumbed to the pandemic that is currently sweeping the globe. Other sporting leagues, like the Brazilian Série A, were later than most to cancel their competition, sparking controversy with fans and players in the country. During one of the last games before the postponement, Gremio players entered the pitch wearing facemasks protesting against the league’s decision to continue the soccer game.

In North America, the National Hockey League is one of a number of competitions which has had its 2019-2020 season suspended, following the likes of the NBA and MLS. Although Major League Soccer are hoping to return in April, it is looking less and less likely that the pandemic will enable this to happen – with forecasters predicting that some sporting events in the US/Canada could be interrupted until at least the last quarter of 2020 – a frightening thought.

A statement from Commissioner, Gary Bettman, suggests that the National Hockey League will try to continue later this year, although fans, pundits and punters alike, are all unsure as to whether the resumption will be with standard league games or whether the league will opt to move straight to the playoff stage.

Concerned hockey fans have been speculating and debating the outcome on an array of social media channels, with some even calling for this season to be null and voided, with a resumption to be called later this year, beginning with the following season’s fixtures. Whichever way the league is concluded, it’s almost certain that some fans will be unhappy with the outcome. Boston Bruins will hope for the league to be finalised with the matches played so far, as currently top the NHL standings with 100 points. However, that’s just a fraction of NHL fans, with supporters from other teams arguing (and perhaps rightly), that the season can’t just be finished on a whimper, awarding prizes to those who technically haven’t won them. Fans of St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche & Tampa Bay Lightning will be quick to argue that the remaining games of the season be completed, before anyone lifts the Stanley Cup, as they are all under 10 points away from the current league leaders. One thing’s for sure, it’s a hugely challenging time for the authorities who govern the sport.

Hockey is the most popular sport in Canada, and as such, hundreds of thousands of dedicated Canadian fans will feel like they suddenly have a lot of time and money on their hands, given the lack of attendance at matches. Furthermore, hockey is also one of the top punted sports in North America/Canada, so with the lack of regular league action – this social pastime, as well as others that coincide with it, may drop off for the time being. The bookies will be expected fans to use betting sites with free bet codes and change their approaches. Bookies will be opting for alternative methods for income and enjoyment – with online casinos and similar gaming platforms providing a welcome alternative to the line betting and points spreads so that keep so many entertained through the majority of the season, when it’s in full flow.

For now, watching back your team’s best moments of previous seasons, and old clips of hockey fights, will be a great way to fill the gaps, whilst the sport takes time to recover from this unprecedented pandemic.

Whilst a sport without supporters, isn’t a sport, given the vast revenue that is attributed those following their allegiances – it’s important to also consider the players who have suffered as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. The NHL suspension hasn’t only been affecting fans of hockey, but the players themselves, albeit in a somewhat different manner – although it is still proportionate in its impact.

Players from clubs across the globe had previously been advised to self-isolate, after it was recently reported in the mainstream media that a National Basketball Association player had contracted the virus. Given the facilities that the two sports and associations share, this seems like a sensible option. In more recent developments, a new statement from the National Hockey League now advises that players can opt to return, as and when they see fit, to their home – whether this is in North America or abroad. These players will still have to follow the rigorous self-isolation process that the WHO has outlined, but they can do so in the comfort of their familiar surroundings, cultures, and countries. Clubs are hoping to open club and training facilities when possible, so that players can keep up their fitness looking to start playing regular Hockey games as soon as possible.

This is an unprecedented pandemic, whichever way one looks at it. The NHL has been affected in a way that the league has never seen before, but one thing remains abundantly clear – hockey hasn’t seen or heard the end of the dreaded C-word just yet.