Legal Sportsbooks Will Be Just Fine Without MLB Games – And So Will Bettors

Written By Derek Helling on March 4, 2022 - Last Updated on April 20, 2022
Regulated Sportsbook Is No Big Deal If MLB Games Get Cancelled

Forcing people to come to terms with how well they can get along without your product is an interesting marketing strategy for any business. That’s exactly what franchise owners have done with their MLB games cancelation, though.

While fewer Major League Baseball games isn’t a good thing for legal sportsbooks in the United States, no one in their C-suites is freaking out right now. Bettors should similarly relax as well.

MLB games cancelation are not a huge error for sportsbooks

In baseball terms, the cancelation of the first two series of the 2022 MLB regular season is more of a dropped fly in foul territory than the ball going through Bill Buckner’s legs for US sportsbooks. A full slate of 2,430 regular-season contests isn’t putting them into another stratum of revenue on the year.

Betting on MLB games is far from a star. As an example, take a look at the numbers from last year in Indiana. While many states’ gaming regulators don’t break down handle by sport, the Hoosier State’s do.

From April 2021 through October of 2021, Indiana bettors plunked down around $374.98 million on wagers on baseball. While that excludes any multi-sport parlays that include MLB games, it also includes money that bettors put down on other leagues in Australia, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

That $374.98 million in handle represented about 19.3% of the over $1.94 billion wagered across all sports during that same seven-month stretch. For a better idea of what MLB is worth to sportsbooks, look at the numbers for October alone.

MLB’s biggest event gets overshadowed

Bets on the MLB playoffs and World Series – the sport’s ultimate betting draw – drew just $34.82 million in bets in Indiana last year. Indiana bettors put down over five times that much during that month on college football and NFL markets.

In Colorado, where there is an MLB franchise, the numbers were very similar for last October. Colorado bettors put $37.38 million on baseball that month. That represented less than 8% of the total.

As there is no clear sign of when the lockout might end, sportsbooks have already begun to adjust.

“It’s unfortunate that the MLB season will not start on time,” said Johnny Avello, DraftKings‘ director of operations.

“DraftKings will not be offering the Regular Season Over/Under Wins Proposition until we have a better idea on how many games the regular season will consist of. Future Wagering on the World Series, Pennant, and Divisions are up on our site and if the league declares a winner, all bets are action. We also have Player Awards Futures available on the DraftKings platform and the same rules as above apply to those as well.”

If the lockout endures, sportsbooks like DraftKings will adjust their markets accordingly. For bettors, that means opportunities to make some adjustments as well. As for the books, these adjustments should be manageable.

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Plenty of other betting fodder available

Should MLB franchise owners extend their lockout and cancel more games, that doesn’t mean there’s naught to wager on. In fact, there’s actually quite a robust menu during those months.

The NBA regular season lasts through mid-April, and the NHL regular calendar extends a little further than that. The playoffs in both leagues will carry through May and spill into June.

The WNBA gets going in May and lasts throughout the summer. Although the NWSL has not yet released a full schedule for the 2022 season, its calendar normally goes through the summer as well. The summer will also be full of soccer matches in other leagues around the globe.

Of course, there’s also always the option to simply take that money you would have bet on MLB games and use it to entertain yourself in other ways. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with not betting on sports. Take a trip or buy something frivolous instead.

Due to the greed of the owners of MLB franchise owners, sportsbooks are about to become intimately familiar with just how little they need MLB games to pay their bills. Bettors should similarly realize that life without MLB games actually goes on without much bother.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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