Casinos, sports books, see big boom in bets now that professional sports start to resume

After months without many popular sports where gambling took a major hit, owners of sportsbooks are glad for play to resume.
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 7:34 PM CDT
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RIVERSIDE, Iowa (KCRG) - For many sports fans, things are starting to look a little more normal than they have been in months past.

With the return of Major League Baseball starting last week, the National Basketball Association set to resume Thursday, and the National Hockey League returning next week, fans will fill the time with sports they have been looking forward to.

While Iowa does not have any major league teams, it does have legalized sports betting. Under a full schedule, people in Iowa bet millions of dollars each month on sports. But that has taken a major hit in recent months. Now with sports set to start again, sportsbooks are preparing for a boom in business, compared to when the pandemic began in the United States.

The Elite Sportsbook in Riverside Casino has been among those betting destinations waiting for a big surge in action. Among those waiting, Riverside General Manager Dan Franz.

“March happened just all of a sudden,” Franz said. “And no one was really expecting it to the extent that that’s what happened and that’s what went on.”

Naturally, without sports, people had very little to bet on. Members at the sportsbook were e-mailed promotions that ranged from Bulgarian soccer leagues to Russian table tennis.

“For the months, the last half of March and then in to April, things were pretty bleak,” Franz said.

The numbers from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission back up Franz’s claim.

In February, before the pandemic, the sportsbook in Riverside saw more than $4 million in action on sports. In April, it was about $48,000, representing about 1% of what was being bet two months prior.

“You can only bet so much on European soccer and Korean baseball and things like that before, the betting public isn’t certainly going to come down here and do that,” Franz said.

Now baseball numbers are back on the board with the MLB, and the NBA is set to resume at the end of the week. And staff like Franz do not need to see people come to the register to know bets will be in high demand.

“The majority of our bets continue to be online and will be online going forward,” Franz said. “That’s just the world we live in with online betting.”

Meaning those wagers the casinos have been waiting for, are coming in now.

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