The Betting Scene: Sportsbooks prepare for the return of pro sports



In the first of a two part series, we look at what online sports books are doing to prepare for the return of major professional sports . . . and sports betting.

Pro sports are coming back and sportsbooks are getting ready

return of pro sportsAs the U.S. re-opens from the coronavirus lockdown, fans are awaiting the return of pro sports and players are looking forward to sports betting. Sportsbooks worldwide are also anxiously awaiting the return of the NBA, NHL, MLS and MLB and many are already gearing up for a full menu of sports bets starting in July.

Staffing layoff rumors simply not true

Amidst a tiny sports betting menu and minute revenues, we found that most of the top-rated sportsbooks did not lay off any staff throughout the virus outbreak. Some, like WagerWeb, were able to have co-workers setup at home, while others, like Heritage Sports, have been using work-from-home employees for the last several years. Even the sportsbooks that did trim down staff have assured furloughed workers (and us) that staffing will return to normal levels as more sports open up and football approaches. And GTBets told us that they did not have to layoff any employees either, as they "went remote during the worst months of COVID." A representative added that they are "lucky in our location, as Curacao remains one of the least impacted places on the planet", which is true, as the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao have less than 140 cases and just four deaths from COVID-19.

Many bettors have noticed that the overall hours for customer service and wagering have been reduced over the last three months. WagerWeb confirmed this saying that, "The only change has been reduced hours for some departments due to the lower volume in sports bets due to the cancellation of sports." But as pro sports are set to return places like Heritage Sports confirmed what we had expected. "We'll return to our normal schedule to ensure that we are covering the North American sporting schedule," a representative from Heritage added. Jazz Sports added, "With the return of NBA in July, longer shifts will be permitted and regular work schedules will apply. This goes for customer support, sales agents and our wagering staff."

IT projects at online sportsbooksNot a normal "Offseason"

Typically, in the later summer months, after the NBA and NHL playoffs have ended, sportsbooks that do most of their business on U.S. sports bets re-do websites, upgrade services and get ready to fire for NFL football. But with sports down to nearly none in April, May and June, sportsbooks have been getting ready in ways other than staffing, taking care of some typical "off season" tasks early. At Heritage, they have had IT feverishly working, busy completing "many of the projects that are typically done in July and August. Maintenance and new installations are being completed and all systems will be in top shape." Other books spent time with new products to offer bettors. Jazz Sports has been working on a Poker product and expect to have that out soon. Also, look for a few new, updated websites come football season for some of the top books.

As MLS, NBA and NHL get set to return, sportsbooks are also getting their offices COVID-ready for the return of the hustle and bustle of typical sports betting. Jazz Sports told us that, "Management is now addressing logistics and potential concerns of workers and are doing everything possible to improve safe work practices." WagerWeb assured us that they have "taken all the safety and security steps to assure the health of our employees” and only a "hand full of staff from IT, accounting and processing alternate to enter the building following for essential tasks." Most of the sportsbooks we spoke with expect to have staffing in their facilities at 50% as bettors get more active and betting volume ramps up.

Payouts

The one thing that hasn't seen much change is customer payouts. WagerWeb and Heritage are still processing payouts 7 days a week and there have been very few reports of slow pay from any of the top online sportsbooks. Bitcoin is still a preferred money transfer method and at least the price of BTC has become stable (hovering in the mid $9000s), despite chaos in the stock market and around the world.

Check back next week as we will outline more of what players can expect on their betting menu and what bonuses players can expect to see as sports return to a new, fan-less "normal".

Check back every week for The Betting Scene as we will highlight new items of interest in the world of online sports betting.


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