As the Coronavirus continues to spread its way across Europe, sporting authorities have been forced to take drastic action in order to stem the tide of infection, and the impact on the UK’s betting markets could be significant.
The English Premier League and the Scottish Premiership have been suspended, with games in England postponed until April 3 at the earliest, whilst Scotland has offered no concrete date for when regular football could return.
These measures are in-line with steps taken in other European countries, most notably Italy, with the Prime Minister imposing a ‘stay at home’ policy in which travel is only permitted for work or family emergencies.
In turn, Serie A matches have been suspended until April, with the possibility remaining that this season could be completely cancelled altogether, with the remaining fixtures rendered null and void.
This has had a sizeable affect on Italy’s gaming industry, with Newgioco, for example, forced to temporarily close around 150 betting shops across the country, in accordance with the government’s newly introduced policy.
At the time of writing this article, the UK has 1,140 confirmed cases of COVID-19, so should we expect a similar impact on Britain’s betting markets?
Well, retail betting in the UK is already enduring a pretty turbulent period after last April’s reduction of maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2, having been lowered from £100, as part of the government’s outlined packages of gambling regulations designed to protect vulnerable people and the young.
It goes without saying that with the vast majority of the population staying in doors and only making trips outside for the absolute essentials, betting companies with an offline presence will be hit much harder than those with a substantial online footprint, such as betsafe.com, with entertaining online games such as a Joker that’s on fire.
Unquestionably, if the nationwide lockdown goes on for much longer, and sporting events are pushed further back than the start of April, retail bookmakers will take a further hit to their 2020 revenue – something that could perhaps see betting shops close here, just like in Italy.
Football’s European governing body, UEFA, are set to discuss the possibility of postponing Euro 2020, which was set to be played across the continent between June and July, with the summer of 2021 looking much more likely.
However, with the Euros and the Olympics in Tokyo still scheduled to go ahead as planned, bookies will be keeping their fingers crossed that the situation will soon ease, and things can start to get back to normal.