It’s been slim pickings at Indiana’s online sportsbooks since the start of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Those sportsbooks had to get creative with the world of sports at a standstill.
With the typical spring staples of baseball and basketball no longer available, the betting focus shifted towards more obscure sports.
But just how much interest have those stranger sports been able to create?
BetRivers Sportsbook recently released some data on exactly that. Its numbers from May 6 provide a glimpse at which sports have been the most popular for betting in the absence of the typical options.
Hoosiers have embraced table tennis betting
At least at BetRivers, table tennis has taken the throne as the most popular sport for betting. Moscow Liga Pro betting, to be specific.
Over 96% of the money wagered with BetRivers on May 6 went towards Russian table tennis.
That alone shows a remarkable trend from bettors.
Sure, the major professional leagues haven’t been operating, but there have still been a few options from lesser-known leagues in more popular sports.
For example, soccer fans have had the option of betting on Belarusian soccer.
Although the league certainly isn’t a familiar one for many fans, soccer as a sport definitely is. It shows that Hoosiers have preferred betting on a new sport altogether rather than an unfamiliar league in a sport they already know.
Table tennis’ popularity at BetRivers falls in line with what other sportsbooks are reporting.
“Who would think that people would bet on table tennis point by point, in-game wagering, how many games they’re going to play, how many sets they’re going to go? That’s the biggest phenomenon that I’ve seen out of everything we’ve done so far.”
It’s certainly helped that table tennis was one of the only betting options out there.
As more and more sports slowly gear up to resume play, it will be interesting to see exactly how long table tennis’ 15 minutes of fame will last.
Korean Baseball betting expanded the options
Outside of table tennis and futures bets, the NFL Draft was really the only other betting draw of the last month and a half. There just weren’t a lot of consistent options out there.
That changed with the introduction of the Korea Baseball Organization.
The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) recently approved betting on the South Korean baseball league. The KBO’s opening day was on May 5.
Although it’s new to the Hoosier State’s sportsbooks, the KBO does give bettors one more option to pick from.
The data from BetRivers shows that only 3% of the money wagered on May 6 went towards KBO betting.
There’s no way to know for sure if that low number is due to the newness of the league as a betting option, or just a lack of interest in it altogether.
Korean baseball may find itself in a similar situation to Belarusian soccer, where Hoosiers still prefer betting on new sports like table tennis rather than a strange league in a familiar sport.
ESPN could help give the KBO a boost in the coming weeks too.
Its deal with the league to broadcast six games a week gives fans a reliable way to watch the games they’re betting on. That’s an advantage that table tennis doesn’t have.
Belarus Premier League soccer less popular with bettors
Despite being available for betting since the start of the health crisis, the Belarus Premiere League hasn’t caught on for BetRivers.
Its May 6 data showed that a meager .04% of the money wagered that day went towards the league.
However, things might not be as bleak as that number makes them seem.
There weren’t any games played on May 6, which was the day that that data came from. The league took a few days off between May 3 and May 8.
That means one of two things. Either bettors aren’t interested in Belarusian soccer, or they just aren’t interested in futures bets on the league.
It could easily be the case that most of the bets on the league come on the same day as games. After all, that’s when those matchups are featured prominently as the live options on BetRivers’ website and app.
Regardless of what the actual level of popularity is for the league, it may not last for long.
The Bundesliga is returning to action on May 18. That will give soccer fans a league they’re more familiar with to bet on.
Since the German league is at a much higher level of play and popularity, there’s a good chance it will suck up whatever popularity the Belarus Premier League has created for betting.