Sobering news hit the Midwest and the state of Michigan on Tuesday afternoon.
Sports bettors in the state will have to wait until at least the spring to place a wager on a Big Ten football contest.
COVID-19 forces postponement of Big Ten’s fall sports
Tuesday’s announcement was another big domino to fall for the Big Ten as it attempted to hold a season while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first domino fell early in July, when the conference announced its programs wouldn’t partake in non-conference games in 2020.
Just last week, the Big Ten released its 10-game conference schedule for its new 2020 football season.
On Monday’s The Dan Patrick Show, the longtime radio host and former ESPN broadcaster stated that 12 of the 14 Big Ten presidents voted against having a fall college football season.
Following that report, numerous Big Ten coaches released statements urging for the season to continue. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was the first.
The rally of the coaches didn’t help, and the Big Ten officially suspended the fall sports calendar, with hopes to hold a football season in the spring.
According to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren:
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward. As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
Oddsmakers saw Ohio State as 2020 Big Ten favorite
Odds were available for Big Ten teams to win the conference title this fall prior to Tuesday’s cancellation.
According to oddsmakers at WilliamHill Sportsbook, Ohio State was the clear favorite. The Buckeyes had -270 odds to claim the title.
Penn State was the next favorite at +600 to win, while Michigan sat at +650. Wisconsin was nearby at +750, while Nebraska was at +2,000, and Iowa sat at +2,500.
Michigan State was a long shot at +5,000 odds. The Spartans were entering their first season under new coach Mel Tucker.
Impact of no Big Ten unknown for Michigan sportsbooks
The first year of legalized sports betting in the state of Michigan hasn’t gone smoothly for casinos.
After years of anticipation, sportsbooks in the state finally opened in March. Days later, the pandemic forced their closures.
Now, with casinos reopening and sports returning to action, another blow comes with the loss of Big Ten football.
With this being the first year that college football could be wagered on in Michigan, the financial impact of losing the Big Ten this fall isn’t clear.
Reports indicate that football (NFL and college) combine for nearly $100 billion in wagers at offshore sportsbooks. David Murley, deputy director of the Michigan Gaming Commission Board said,
“We don’t have numbers to compare year-over-year since casino-based sports betting didn’t exist last year. We expect that any reduction in popular sports wagering offers – fewer MLB games or zero Big Ten games – will result in less sports wagering activity than otherwise would have been realized.”
Not all football is suspended, other sports continue on
College football isn’t cancelled as a whole. The Big 12 Conference stated its intentions to move forward with its 10-game 2020 season on Wednesday. The ACC and SEC have also indicated they are planning on a 2020 fall season.
The NFL is moving on with its training camps in preparation for the 2020 season as well. The MLB, NBA and NHL also continue with their seasons. Bettors still have options to consider even without Big Ten football.
Jim Wise, vice president of marketing and sports and online gaming at FireKeepers Casino Hotel stated,
“Since we have no track record of college football wagering, it is impossible to predict an impact of losing Big Ten football. Will those bettors move to other sports? We have to wait and see. Between MLB, NBA, NHL and potentially NFL, we certainly will have a busy menu of games through the end of October.”
The start of the NFL season opens on Sept. 10.