This is the time of year we’re typically talking about bracket busters, Cinderellas and the hundreds of millions of dollars bet on the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Obviously, the world has changed, and we’re focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and how we can stay well while protecting our loved ones. Sports and the betting that goes with it has been insulated in previous emergencies, but not so this time. The closing of hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada and other states is unprecedented but necessary. VSiN is committed to keeping you informed on the industry we love. Given the current circumstances, here are the most common questions I’ve received. I will base my answers on how things are handled here in Nevada, specifically at the South Point Hotel and Casino.
What happens to my bets to win the college basketball title?
With the NCAA suspending or canceling all winter and spring sports, future bets to win the men’s and women’s national championships are refunded. If you bet on conference tournaments that were completed, the winning teams will be paid.
With the NBA and NHL on hold, how will Regular Season Wins and NHL Regular Season Point Totals be handled? Also, what about bets on these championships?
The Regular Season Wins and Point Totals are on hold until the leagues determine what will constitute the regular season. At the South Point, we stipulated that teams had to play 82 regular-season games for action or those wagers were to be refunded. As for the NBA championship and Stanley Cup futures, if the leagues declare champions, those winning selections will be paid. If no champion is determined — if a season is canceled — bets will be refunded.
Sportsbooks in Nevada provide a mail-in option with an address on the back of bet slips. My advice is to make a copy or take a picture of the ticket and use registered mail. As for mobile apps, contact the location or company as to its procedures. Also, remember that house rules and stipulations vary from one operator to another and from state to state.
What does your daily routine look like in light of the current situation?
Great question! Like many of you, I’m getting acquainted with the to-do list around the house, and my wife is the 3-1 favorite as to what gets priority! Seriously, my colleagues at the South Point and I are working on NFL draft propositions and monitoring free-agent signings around the league. We’ll keep up with trades, and once the draft takes place, we will adjust futures prices, formulate Regular Season Win Totals and even look at the prices for Week 1 of the regular season. It looks as though we won’t have spring games in college football, but we’ll delve further into recruiting and transfers. We’ll then put out the college Regular Season Win Totals. Once the NBA, NHL and MLB determine their plans, we’ll get all those prices open for betting.
When do you think sportsbooks will reopen?
Once our hotels and casinos get the green light to reopen, I think it’s safe to say that race and sportsbooks will be part of that. Again, we’ll monitor how the professional leagues and NCAA move forward. We’ll adjust and post prices and odds and let the betting restart.
Can you recall anything close to this shutting down sports betting to this extent?
While hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and fires have impacted specific games and events, this situation is unlike anything previously experienced. Sports and the betting associated with them went on (with controversy) during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and in November 1963 when President John Kennedy was assassinated. During league labor stoppages, horse racing and the other sports were still available. In November 1980, the fire at the MGM Grand (now Bally’s) saw Michael Gaughan (owner of the South Point) close the Barbary Coast (Cromwell today) for a day. I was working there at the time, and the casino floor was literally a triage ward for the victims and first responders, with employees lending a hand. For many people, 9/11 certainly comes to mind, with air travel temporarily suspended and sporting events put on a brief hold. But one of the common factors in all these events was that people were willing, able and encouraged to congregate. Sports continued and served as a focus of unity throughout the country and the world.
I’m mindful that what I do pales in comparison with our first responders, healthcare professionals and military members who are protecting us around the clock. Stay safe, everyone, and remember: We’re all in this together, and we’ll come through it together. Take that ticket to the window and cash it!