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March 15, 2020

What can we gamble on with no sports? Here are five ideas...

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05152018_Las_Vegas_sportsbook_wiki Baishampayan Ghos/via Wikimedia

Sportsbooks look a lot different now with every major sport postponed.

With the very limited exceptions of some Mexican, Russian and Turkish soccer — and horse racing (for now...) there is not a single sport being played as coronavirus wreaks havoc on regular daily life.

Which means the sports betting industry has ground to a halt, and sports betting enthusiasts have nothing to wager on.

Fear not. We have a few ideas that we think American sportsbooks should get on board with.

We've tried to single out items that can be wagered on that fit a few parameters. They must be relatively short term (a day or a week for the outcome to be determined), they must be of national interest (so betting on how long your GrubHub delivery takes to arrive doesn't count) and they must be somewhat realistic as a means for gambling. 

Some of these actually are available to do and some are either theoretical or not available everywhere. Here are our five favorite ideas:

The temperature

Have you ever looked at the weather app on your phone to see what the high temperature is, only to have the actual high exceed that? This happened on Friday in my town of Blue Bell, when the high was supposed to be 67 but it actually reached 71. 

It's perfect. It's virtually instant. If says it'll be 67, and you bet the over, you cash in. Oddshark, get on this right now.

This seems to actually exist, but it is very dependent on where you live. It was hard for us to actually find a betting site to let us put a wager on the weather, and so we are suggesting it become more widespread.

Primary election voting

Bovada has a version of this, where you can bet on prop bets for the upcoming Democratic debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Several sites also offer odds on whether Donald Trump will be reelected in the fall. But there remain dozens more primary battles, and it Sanders — who is trailing Biden in delegates — doesn't drop out of the race, there exist the perfect conditions to make some bets.

What percentage of upcoming Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Chicago primary voters will cast a ballot for Biden? Oddsmakers should set some kind of line (say, 42.5 percent?) and gamblers can bet on this. Amid the outbreak, some primaries are being delayed and moved back, so this is obviously a limited opportunity, but it's an opportunity nonetheless.

Television ratings

Just last week, broadcast TV ratings rose 7% across the board, as more and more people are stuck at home from work or from leisure activities. And, without sports dominating the live TV airwaves, there are eyeballs to be had. 

Young Sheldon on CBS captured the most TV sets, according to Hollywood Reporter, with 8.76 million viewers during its last airing. We should bet on this. How many people will watch the season premiere  of Westworld? This is another national event that can be quantified fairly quickly, and for those interested in the entertainment industry it should be something available to wager on.

Flight arrivals/departures

Yes, Seinfeld did it. But it was awesome and it is very doable in real life — at least with domestic flights still happening for the time being.

Think one particular airport is more likely to have a delayed flight? Is the weather bad in Chicago? Is there an airline notorious for being behind schedule? There is a lot of research that can be done, and national databases that tell you exactly when a flight touches down and lifts off in real time. 

Here's a guide on how it should work:


It's not as exciting as real sports, and by no means does the casual sports betting fan have the necessary knowledge to bet on a video game, but perhaps, if this thing drags out, it may become the next best option. There are leagues that play Counterstrike and League of Legends that currently have matched scheduled on the books, as well as sports-related games (like the Phoenix Suns streaming simulations of the rest of their season on twitch). 

If Esports are, indeed, the future, this is probably the biggest opportunity they'll have to shine anytime soon. Don't be surprised if ESPN, FoxSports1 or another sports network starts to cover these with live broadcasts if the major sport league postponements continue for a long time.

Bonus: Celebrity deaths

Let me first say, I am not endorsing this, and I would never have come up with the idea. But on some websites, like my, you can gamble on several celebrity match ups — like Bob Barker vs. Regis Philbin. 

These bets will not play off in a few days like the others, but... man... if you are desperate, try taking Harvey Weinstein at +800 odds over the other convicted criminal celebrities. It might pay off.

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

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