$50 on the shark? Gamblers getting creative with no sports to bet on

With few traditional sports to bet on, sportsbooks are offering odds on such unusual things as the migration pattern of sharks. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES 


While there were still virtually no sports to bet on because of COVID-19 shutdowns in May, Pennsylvania’s nascent sportsbook industry did see an increase in bets over April.

The Pennsylvania gaming control board reported that online sportsbooks generated $77.5 million in wagers in May, up more than 68% over April, which saw only $46 million in wagers.

According the gaming analyst PlayPennsylvania.com much of the betting was on NASCAR, which began racing last month, European Soccer League games and some futures betting on football and basketball.

There are also some more obscure sports gamblers can place wagers on such as South Korean baseball.

An online website MyBookie is also launching wagering on the migration pattern of sharks.

Gamblers can watch the migration on line and at ocenrch.com and will be able to wager on an assortment of odds pertaining to the specific migration patterns of individual great white sharks.

After being tagged with a tracker, sharks ping on Ocearch when they come to the surface. Based on these pings, MyBookie will offer gamblers a variety of ways to place bets, such as how far a shark will travel between pings, whether a shark will enter a certain body of water, and what date a shark will ping next.

“Over the past few months – because most major sports are shuttered because of COVID-19 – we’ve had to be creative when it comes to providing our users with something to wager on. We’ve offered odds on everything from pro table tennis to simulated NFL games to politicians (who would secure the Democratic Presidential nomination) to various stock indexes (an over-under on the S&P 500) to pop culture (who would play the Penguin role in the next Batman movie),” said David Strauss of MyBookie.

Of course that doesn’t make up for the betting that would occur on traditionally popular sports.

“A normal menu of sports would likely mean an almost instant recovery for online sportsbooks, though we may still be a few months from that happening,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks have been savvy in keeping their customers engaged with sports well outside the mainstream. That will only help when things begin to return to normal.”

While sportsbooks are off, Cross said online casinos – also relatively new to Pennsylvania – are gaining momentum with bricks-and-mortar casinos shuttered since mid-March.

Cross said online casinos and poker rooms set a new record with $55.9 million in gross revenue, up 29.7% from $43.1 million in April and nearly triple the $19.5 million they too in for February. That comes from a total of $1.8 billion was bet on online table games and slots in May, up from $1.4 billion in April.

While that sounds like good news, and certainly gives a leg up to the new online gaming offerings, it should be noted the state’s casinos still missed out on the $286.1 million land-based casinos generated in May 2019.