How The Omicron Variant Impacts Sports Betting

by | Dec 18, 2021

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for all the major sports. Football is in its stretch run, basketball and hockey seasons are moving right along, and the biggest clubs in soccer are in the heart of their regular-season matches.

With such a busy schedule, most leagues want to power through with all the COVID-19 positive tests. Remember leagues are trying to ensure that they still make plenty of money after losing out on so much since March 2020. This is a closer look at how leagues are handling the Omicron variant right now, and how it could impact the rest of the year. From a gambling perspective, it is making a huge impact on bets right up until the actual game takes place. If not handled in an appropriate manner

NFL

With so much sports betting money coming in on the NFL, they seem to be completely focused on powering through and hoping for the best. There’s just a few weeks left in the regular season, but the real test will be if the playoffs start and key players are missing.

During the first wave of COVID-19, the NFL found a way to wrap up their season before anything crazy happened. Last year, they still played every single game, even with limited to no fans at games. One way or another, the NFL will get it done.

As far as betting is concerned, the key players will make a difference. If a quarterback has to miss a game late, that could move the line by a touchdown or more. Only during rare occasions has the NFL stepped in and rescheduled a game for a few days later.

With all the issues, the good news is that NFL teams are taking steps to protect their players as they get closer and closer to the postseason. Soon, only about a third of the teams will still need to be healthy enough to play. Too much is on the line for players to be reckless about their health, so expect a lot of testing, and fewer and fewer cases.

College Football

At this point in the year, all that anyone is trying to do is get through the postseason and hope for the best. There are a number of bowl games that have already been canceled or switched up, which is delivering a pretty big blow at the local level to some of these areas reliant on the game. However, college football will still look at the whole season as a success as long as they can get the College Football Playoff over and done with.

Cincinnati, Alabama, Michigan, and Georgia are all doing what they can to eliminate any huge hold-ups during the postseason. For example, Michigan went as a team to get a booster shot well before they made the trip to the semifinal.

One way or another, expect this postseason to go on as far as the big games are concerned. As far as every other bowl game, it’s turning into a major hassle for people trying to bet on the games. Between players opting out because they want to protect their draft status, and COVID-19 canceling some games, it’s become a huge problem overall. Some games have been outright canceled, which from a bigger perspective it’s not the worst thing in the world to happen since it usually means the lines changed quite a bit anyway.

NHL

The NHL is the one major sports league taking COVID-19 and this latest outbreak the most seriously. They are on a temporary hiatus league-wide, hoping to get through this issue and have everything back on track as quickly as possible.

Another causality for hockey fans is that they will not get a chance to watch the best of the best in the Olympics. The NHL had to make a decision to not allow their players to cross the world to get to China and play for their country. This is a devastating blow for a lot of players who are very loyal to their home country, but they have to pay respect to who they play for professionally.

Future bets for hockey now take a hit with this hockey season being altered. There’s a chance they don’t play a full schedule, and some of the games will fit into an already tight schedule. Expect a lot of tired legs by the spring, as well as an uptick of injuries, unfortunately.

Right now, hockey fans must look elsewhere for their gambling fix. There are some other leagues still playing, but the NHL has left a fairly big void.

College Basketball

The college basketball season is wrapping up the non-conference part of the schedule, which could be good news overall from a timing perspective. These games are not as crucial to get in as playing conference games. Each conference has different rules as far as making up games that are pushed aside during COVID-19 outbreaks, but conferences are committed to ensuring that a postseason occurs. After missing the 2020 NCAA Tournament, the sport can’t afford another cancellation.

College basketball might not pick up steam until March, but a lot of sports gamblers like to target the college game so that they can get action throughout the winter season. Teams are being extra cautious with players right now, but the truth is, a lot of them are not getting too sick after testing positive. That means there’s an effect on who misses what game, but they actually come back stronger without missing much of a beat. Keep an eye on some colleges being more cautious than others. Some have gone back to allowing no fans for the immediate future, which plays a role in sports betting.

Soccer

Leagues worldwide are all trying to navigate this latest COVID-19 outbreak as easily as possible. It’s very challenging with so many different countries involved, but teams are making it work one way or another. There’s been some postponements and cancellations, but teams want to power through in the same ways that other leagues are handling the situation.

With so many different outbreaks, it’s crucial to pay attention to who’s in the starting 11 for each match. Some of the bigger teams excel more than others because they have the depth to handle such challenging circumstances. Leagues and teams that only have one or two star players find themselves at a huge disadvantage if they are out for whatever reason.

If a team is not motivated to win a match, that’s also playing a major role in who plays and who doesn’t. For example, a league match that a team has an opportunity to win takes priority over any smaller tournaments. Teams are willing to give some of their players more of a rest since the schedule is so jam-packed.

From a goal-scoring perspective, goals are slightly down since the new variant caused issues. Players are getting tired and running a little ragged because of all the action they have to fit in with postponement. A lot of sportsbooks are adjusting the over/unders accordingly, but keep that in mind when placing any bets.

NBA

The NBA became known as the league at the forefront of COVID-19 postponements and cancellations during the first breakout in 2020. They are now facing another pretty big dilemma, as the breakout is happening right when the NBA season is heating up.

Unlike some of the other team sports, basketball is very reliant on one or two star players making a difference. When an All-Star is missing, the point spread can change by 10 points or more.

Will basketball take a stance and break at any point this year? As of right now, it seems very unlikely. Teams are hoping that as virtually every player handles this variant one way or another, they can get back to some level of normalcy. So many players have already been through protocols that there is not a ton left needing to.

The NBA does have a little bit of wiggle room if they want to extend the season into the summer. It’s what they’ve done the last two NBA seasons, but they are really trying to do whatever possible to keep the current schedule as-is.

Other Sports

All the main sports have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, but so have the smaller sports. There’s been less opportunity to put money down on sports, especially gearing up for the next season. Golf and tennis are two sports trying to figure out exactly how they are going to tackle the 2022 year. With as much travel as players must go through for the sports, it makes it very difficult to hop from country to country.

Fighting sports are also staying fluid, as last-second cancellations are becoming the norm. If a fighter has COVID-19, there’s way too much contact with the other fighter to let the fight go on. Even the most prepared fighters still face a tough task being a last-second replacement.

An End in Sight?

If there’s anything that’s a guarantee with COVID-19, it’s that no one knows for sure how long It will continue to cause problems much bigger than sports. Most are optimistic that when Omicron is over with, it will be the beginning of the end for COVID-19. That could mean some sense of normalcy for sports betting in general, but it’s impossible to predict until it happens.

For now, pay close attention to any and all bets. Things can change in a matter of minutes. Don’t place a bet too far in advance, as personnel changes happen at all times.

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