Craving Betting Action? How About Some Belarusian Soccer?

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It’s been a full week since the traditional U.S. sports calendar was frozen in unprecedented fashion.

If you somehow got a bet down on Hideki Matsuyama to be first-round leader of The Players Championship last Thursday, good for you. With the exception of UFC action, your chances since then of placing a bet on an event you could watch live and get paid off afterward have been pretty nil, in the wake of mass cancellations due to the health threat from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

But a detailed scan of Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks reveals plenty of wagering options. They just may not be what an ordinary bettor is accustomed to risking his money on.

Soccer, rugby, and Aussie football, oh my

Instead of betting on the Philadelphia 76ers during their playoff push, you can get into the action on plenty of Australian Rules Football games.

Rather than being able to wager on the Penguins in a competitive NHL Metropolitan Division contest, there’s ample competition in Belarusian Premier League soccer.

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Without Villanova playing an opening round game in the NCAA Tournament this week, someone can take a side on one of seven National Rugby League games through Sunday, including an even matchup between the Wests Tigers and Newcastle Knights (both -120 on FanDuel).

Brady’s move stirred some action

Not everything being offered by the sportsbooks has to involve a sport where you never heard of the teams, don’t know the players, and don’t understand the rules.

For one thing, Tom Brady’s signing this week with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a gift for the sportsbooks in the way of offering new options to those who can’t get enough of the NFL, even in the off-season.

FanDuel jumped on the unexpected move by setting up the following new offers:

  • A “Brady vs Belichick Who Wins More” bet, with the Buccaneers at +130 and Patriots -152 for which will have more regular season wins.
  • A trio of Tom Brady season passing props: over/under 29.5 passing TDs, o/u 4399.5 passing yards, o/u 10.5 interceptions.
  • A temporary “super boost” through noon Thursday gave odds of 32/1 for the Bucs to win the Super Bowl, which returned to 18/1 afterward.

Lines are posted on Penn State football games

Betting options on events still taking place around the world is largely focused on soccer games being played in many countries, in addition to rugby and Australian Rules Football.

DraftKings is making a big push for the latter, offering “odds boosts” for it and a $25 risk-free bet while touting the Aussie action that involves “no pads,” “big kicks,” “big catches” and the potential for NHL-style fighting.

But DraftKings is also providing a heavy dose of futures bet options on sports that are more familiar. That includes point spreads for 26 NCAA football games scheduled from Aug. 29 to Nov. 28, starting with Notre Dame (-15.5) vs. Navy.

If you don’t want to wait until fall to place a bet, you can get Penn State (+4.5) now on the road at Michigan on Oct. 3, or the Nittany Lions as a home underdog (+5.5) vs. Ohio State on Oct. 24.

And while this year’s March Madness never took place, you can already get a bet down on the 2021 NCAA Tournament winner, with DraftKings making Baylor and Gonzana both +800. Villanova is tied with Duke as the sixth-highest favorite at +1400.

Eagles, Steelers 100/1 to meet in Super Bowl

Villanova isn’t the only Pennsylvania team for which futures options are available, even if you can’t watch the teams now to follow the ebb and flow of your chances of being paid off.

Some sites have no NHL futures posted right now, but FanDuel makes the Flyers and Penguins both 13/1 to win the Stanley Cup.

FOX Bet is offering a temporary boost to 30/1 on the 76ers’ chances of winning the NBA title, when it says the actual odds should be 25/1.

FOX Bet is also providing a chance to get paid off 100/1 on a bet correctly guessing the Eagles and Steelers will both make the Super Bowl.

In addition, it is offering a point spread already for every Eagles game next season. That includes their cross-state matchup at Heinz Field, for which the Steelers are being listed as a 1-point favorite.

Live, in-game betting is always an option

The futures bet options pertain to all kinds of sports all over the world, taking place anytime in 2020 and even beyond.

At Unibet, odds are offered for the Davis Cup in November, with Spain the favorite at +225 and the USA all the way down at 20/1.

At BetRivers and PlaySugarhouse, the July winner of the Tour de France can be bet, with Egan Bernal favored at +225.

For the Indy 500, still scheduled for May 24, FOX Bet makes Will Power the betting favorite at +600.

FanDuel has Rory McIlroy favored at 6/1 to win the PGA and Masters, and 9/1 for the U.S. Open and British Open.

And DraftKings goes so far as to post odds for the winner in May of the Snooker World Championship (Judd Trump favored at +260) and the PDC World Championship for darts on Jan. 1 (Michael van Gerwen is +163).

But all of that is a long way off, and no one yet knows which more among these will be canceled or postponed.

That’s why, for bettors who really crave something, there remains live, in-game betting every day like FanDuel was offering Thursday morning in the second half of the Energetik-BGU Minsk vs. BATE Borisov match.

That’s Belarusian soccer. You could bet goal props, spread props, second half props, the final score and more. It may not be what you’re used to, but just don’t say there’s nothing to bet on right now due to the coronavirus.

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at [email protected].

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