Coronavirus and sports gambling: Refunds on canceled games, futures bets, more
I’m the kind of guy who, sometime in February every year, makes a point to put “Selection Sunday” in the iPhone calendar I share with my wife, just so she knows it’s a heavy work day.
Same with “first day of the NCAA tournament,” which kicks off the best four days every year on the sports calendar.
A week ago at this time, I was diving deep into KenPom and trying to ascertain why the last 12 NCAA champs have ranked in the Top 20 in adjusted defensive efficiency. That was great news for my futures tickets on Michigan State and Kansas, but did it make Nico Mannion and Arizona a tasty sleeper?
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 15, 2020
None of it matters now. For the first time, the college basketball postseason is canceled. The cause is coronavirus. There will be no March Madness. The NBA season has been put on hold for (at least) a month. The start of the MLB season is delayed, MLS has halted play, the Masters has been postponed, and the NFL still has questions to answer as the new league year looms next week.
The sports world has been upended; life in America has come to a screeching halt. And while it’s certainly not the most important question, if you’re anything like me, you have a pretty big question to answer: What’s a sports gambler to do when there’s no sports to gamble on?
When the coronavirus hit Asia, casinos in Macau closed for two weeks. That’s beginning here in America. The Wynn Sports Book on the Las Vegas strip has temporarily closed. With almost all professional and college sports suspended, expect more sports books to follow suit. Indeed, shortly after I filed this piece, the MGM announced the temporary closing of all of its Vegass properties:
BREAKING: MGM Resorts International announced Sunday that it would temporarily suspend operations at all Las Vegas properties. https://t.co/qFYIYQy1mR
— Las Vegas Review-Journal (@reviewjournal) March 16, 2020
Casinos in Illinois suspended gambling operations for two weeks, according to the Illinois gaming board.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, if you’re holding any college basketball futures tickets – even for teams that were going to almost certainly miss the NCAA Tournament, like the North Carolina Tar Heels or the Texas Longhorns – don’t throw them out.
It's a confusing time in the sports betting world right now. See below for our latest update ↓
For any questions regarding your account, please contact our customer service team:
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) March 12, 2020
The smart move is to call the sports book and see if you’ll get a refund, because sports books such as FanDuel, the Westgate SuperBook, and Caesars Sports Book to name a few said they would refund any NCAA Tournament futures bets.
And until the NBA makes a determination on the rest of its season — and the playoffs — most futures wagers on pro basketball still have action, at least for now:
If you are curious about NBA Futures Wagers, all bets remain “action” as long as a winner is officially declared.
This same rule is in place for other sports as well. As long as there is an official winner all futures bets are live.
— William Hill US (@WilliamHillUS) March 12, 2020
That’s a pretty good rule of thumb for now, according to our friends over at FOX Bet: if an event or game has been canceled, you’ll likely be looking at a refund of some sort. In the case of online sports books, those will probably be deposited right back into your account.
For events that could still happen, such as NBA Championship futures, though, we’re all in the same boat — waiting patiently for the games to return.