Typically, MLB betting is a hot topic of conversation during the summer months.
But here we are on June 17 and there are no baseball games scheduled… yet.
PointsBet NJ is taking the patient approach.
Andrew Mannino, senior sports content analyst at PointsBet, said, like the fans, there isn’t much we can do but “wait and see.”
“Like everyone, we want to see baseball, and we’re hoping they will come to an agreement and get the season underway,” said Mannino.
Until then, sports betting continues on without baseball games to bet on, run lines to handicap, or a World Series to watch.
And for NJ sportsbooks, the season’s delay boils down to two questions: what to do if there is no baseball and what to do if there is baseball.
New developments in the MLB restart saga
The answer to the first part is simple: If (and it’s a big if) there is no 2020 MLB season, all futures bets will be voided and the money refunded.
But that’s not necessarily going to happen. After several weeks, the waiting game may finally be winding down.
Here is what Jon Heyman of the MLB Network had to say earlier today:
Breaking: MLB and players union are closing in on an agreement to play the 2020 season, via players. Deal expected to be for prorated pay and include expanded playoffs.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 17, 2020
But the Major League Baseball Players Association responded with a Tweet of their own:
Reports of an agreement are false.
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 17, 2020
Funnily enough, those two tweets posted while this story was being written. And the back-n-forth is likely to continue.
So we will call it a work in progress as the two sides at least seem to be talking again.
The drama behind the MLB’s 2020 season
If indeed a deal is finalized this week, it will be a complete 360 from Monday.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred appeared on ESPN’s Return of Sports on Monday night.
His outlook on the 2020 season happening wasn’t exactly optimistic:
BREAKING: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred tells @Espngreeny that he’s “not confident” there will be a 2020 baseball season. “Unfortunately," Manfred said, "I can’t tell you that I’m a 100% certain that’s gonna happen.”
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 15, 2020
The reaction came following a weekend statement released by the MLB Players Association:
Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark today released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/ibyOqB93WC
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 15, 2020
Now, we could write a story just about the battle (for lack of a better word) to bring back professional baseball. There are still a lot of what-ifs in the works and challenges ahead.
But for sportsbooks, the real challenge lies in the planning.
DraftKings Sportsbook + limited baseball offerings
Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings, described the current situation as challenging compared to a normal season. And for one simple reason.
“I think what makes it challenging is that Major League Baseball comes out with a schedule for each team and we get a pretty good look at that for a couple of months before we have to deal with the first games,” said Avello.
“… They may decide they’re going to play and we have like two weeks lead time to prepare. I think that’s where the challenge is.”
Until all the details are released, DraftKings Sportsbook customers will find limited MLB betting options.
Here are some of the available wagers:
- World Series winner
- League winner
- Cy Young
So total wins for the Philadelphia Phillies or New York Yankees are among the markets impacted.
And the fact that teams will not be playing the normal 162-game schedule throws a whole other wrinkle into the equation. At the same time, it doesn’t necessarily mean oddsmakers will bypass offering win totals.
Avello said DraftKings is sitting tight and letting the players and owners sort things out. But he is not ruling out putting win totals back up.
“There is a good chance we will if we have enough time once they announce the season, if they announce the season,” Avello said of offering total wins. “We will base those win totals on how many games they’re going to play.”
What to bet on while you wait for the MLB’s return
Mid-June is the time of year when, in a normal season, baseball fans would be counting down to the All-Star break.
This year’s game was scheduled to take place July 14 at Dodgers Stadium. Even if the MLB schedule is set next week, a 2020 All-Star Game seems highly unlikely.
July and August are usually a time when baseball is front and center with the NJ sports betting crowd. By then, the NBA and the NHL have finished their seasons.
That certainly will not be the case this summer.
The NHL has restart plans in place. And the NBA is going to Walt Disney World. Both will kick off in July.
And PGA Tour betting is more popular than ever, with the RBC Heritage starting on Thursday.
And for the horse betting fan, Saturday’s Belmont Stakes adds to the busy weekend.
Bottom line: It will be a busy time for sportsbooks with so many events happening across so many sports — and all within a short span of time.
However, if and when MLB does return, the PointsBet team will be ready to step up to the betting plate.
“I think people are still interested,” said Mannino. “They’re just waiting to see the league come to an agreement and announce a format for the season. When they do, we will react accordingly and have bets up to adjust to whatever the situation is.”