DraftKings CEO Says Sports Shutdown Increasing Interest in Offbeat Events

Posted on: March 28, 2020, 11:01h. 

Last updated on: March 29, 2020, 11:28h.

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins says the near-global shutdown of professional and collegiate sports has resulted in US sports bettors increasing their engagement with offbeat events.

DraftKings sports betting coronavirus
With most sports canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, DraftKings is serving up odds on other sports, such as ping pong. (Image: USATT)

Talking with Bloomberg, Robins says ping pong is one such sport that typically doesn’t receive hardly any wagering action in the US. But as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most sports suspended, the gaming executive explains table tennis has gained a following.

Ping pong is fun to watch,” Robins said. “A silver lining here is that people are getting a chance to try new things that maybe they hadn’t before, and that some of them will like them and continue to play those games once other sports come back.”

Despite the worldwide coronavirus crisis, ping pong matches are still being played in Russia and Ukraine. DraftKings customers can watch the events through the network’s sports betting app.

Robins says roughly 60 percent of the money bet on his platform last week was on table tennis.

Novelty Betting

Online sportsbooks are also offering unorthodox lines to keep their customers engaged. As Casino.org reported earlier this month, a popular proposition bet has been predicting the weather.

Bettors can also take odds on the stock prices of companies expected to be most-impacted by the coronavirus.

The over/under for MGM Resorts’ stock price at the close of trading on March 30 is at $12, the under favored at -135 and over +105. Domino’s Pizza, benefiting from an increase in delivery and takeout, has an over/under stock price at $338 (under -145, over +110).

US sportsbooks are highly regulated, and therefore aren’t as free to offer such novelty lines. But DraftKings is trying to retain customers and lure in new ones with free-to-play fantasy contests on various entertainment.

Robins says a free contest on last Sunday’s season finale of HBO’s hit series Curb Your Enthusiasm fared well. Players predicted 12 questions, and DraftKings offered up a prize pool of $2,000.

Questions included: “Will Larry say, ‘Pretty, pretty, pretty, good?,'” and “Will Larry get kicked out of someone’s house or at a restaurant?”

Weekend Betting

Tens of millions of Americans are on lockdown this weekend, one in three US residents under state orders to “stay at home.” For those looking for some sort of sports betting action to keep themselves entertained, it’s slim pickings.

FanDuel’s board for today’s events include Belarusian soccer, and TT Cup Ukraine ping pong tournament matches. Competitive table tennis has long been popular in East Asia and Europe.

Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia are where all of today’s action is occurring. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports there’s been 1,036 confirmed cases of the virus in Russia, 218 in Ukraine, and 86 in Belarus.

Those are relatively small numbers compared to other countries. Italy is the most infected country in the WHO’s European Region at 80,530 positive cases. Roughly 8,200 people have died there.