NHL, MLB, MLS Are Latest Major Sports Leagues to Postpone Games

  • NHL has postponed final stages of its season, resumption date not specified
  • MLB has pushed back new season start date by at least two weeks
  • MLS has halted its newly begun games for the next 30 days
  • Cancellations, postponements likely to have knock-on effect on sportsbook operators
postponed stamp on schedule
The NHL, MLB, and MLS are the latest major pro sports leagues to postpone their games due to the coronavirus outbreak. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Coronavirus wreaks havoc

The Major League Baseball (MLB), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS) are the latest pro sports leagues to suspend games due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

This comes after the National Basketball Association (NBA) suspended games from Wednesday onwards, with the NCAA also canceling the March Madness college basketball tournament. Many other sporting events at all levels are seeing similar postponements due to fears of the COVID-19 virus spreading. 

NHL calling a suspension

The NHL put all operations for the 2019/2020 season on hold for the foreseeable future. While the league is optimistic about resuming the games at some stage, it did not provide a specific date. Only a few weeks remained until the close of the regular NHL season. 

the fact that the NHL shares many locker rooms with NBA teams was a major factor in postponing

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman issued a statement announcing the cancellations. The statement referred to the positive testing for coronavirus of an NBA player. It said the fact that the NHL shares many locker rooms with NBA teams was a major factor in postponing upcoming NHL ties. 

Bettman spoke with medical experts and hosted a conference call for the league’s Board of Governors. Regarding the plans for the near future, Bettman said, “Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup.”

MLB postpones season start

The MLB has pushed back the start date of its upcoming season by at least two weeks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It also paused all spring training games that were set to take place. 

MLB has pushed back the start date of its upcoming season by at least two weeks

The league’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, held a conference call with the league owners to put in place a plan of action. An MLB statement did not provide too much information, saying “MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.”

The start date for the new season was set to be March 26, with all 30 teams set to play on this date. Many teams had already taken their scouts off the circuit and allowed them to return home following the outbreak. This will be the first time that the MLB season’s opening day has been postponed since the strike in 1995.

MLS halts games for 30 days

The MLS has also postponed all of its games for the next 30 days. The announcement came from the MLS commissioner, Don Garber, after obtaining advice from medical professionals. The season began on February 29, with only two games per team held so far. It is made up of 34 regular-season matches for each team.

The US Soccer Federation has also canceled all activity for its men’s and women’s teams for March and April. 

Likely impact on sports betting

As a result of all of the major sporting organizations canceling or postponing games, there will likely be a knock-on effect for sports betting operators. Casino companies have already seen their stocks tumble over coronavirus fears.

March Madness is one of the most lucrative events to bet on in the United States. Sportsbooks will be losing out on these revenues following its cancellation. 

A number of sportsbooks have stopped accepting futures bets on certain markets due to uncertainty over whether events will eventually resume. Each individual sportsbook will have its own policy on how to deal with wagers bettors have placed on canceled games and events. 

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