BetMGM Expects Record Digital Handle for UFC 249

  • BetMGM expects record digital handle as UFC becomes first mainstream sport to return
  • Overall figures expected to be down due to casino closures across the United States
  • Sports such as golf, soccer, and auto racing are preparing to return in the near future
  • A number of Nevada sportsbooks opened mobile sportsbook registration drive-thrus this week
UFC 237 fight in Rio de Janeiro
BetMGM expects a record digital handle this weekend as UFC 249 finally takes place in Jacksonville, Florida. [Image:]

First mainstream sport to return

BetMGM expects to set a record digital handle this weekend thanks to UFC 249 finally taking place in Jacksonville, Florida. It will be the first major live sporting event to take place in the United States since the middle of March. 

Sportsbooks have been relying on a variety of niche betting markets to keep revenues coming in during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

overall handle will still be lower than usual because physical casinos remain closed

Jason Scott, vice president of trading at BetMGM, confirmed that the sportsbook is predicting a record digital handle. He sees this event as a positive sign that things are starting to gradually get back to normal. 

While BetMGM will undoubtedly accept plenty of wagers on the event, the overall handle will still be lower than usual because physical casinos remain closed across the United States. 

Welcome event for sportsbooks

Sportsbooks have been relying on offering markets for obscure sporting events in far-flung places as of late. The recent NFL Draft brought in a record number of bets for Nevada sportsbooks. Sportsbooks have also been putting a major focus on esports betting. 

However, UFC 249 marks the return of mainstream sport. This is a major fight card, with the main event pitting the exciting Tony Ferguson against Justin Gaethje.  

Other sports are also trying to get back to normal. Germany’s Bundesliga is set to resume behind closed doors on May 16. NASCAR races are set to resume on May 17, and a golf event pitting Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady against one another is also on the horizon.

still no indication as to when the NHL, NBA, and MLB will return to action

There is still no indication as to when the NHL, NBA, and MLB will return to action. The NFL did announce a provisional season schedule this week, but it is subject to change. 

Low betting volumes

Total revenue for Nevada sportsbooks in March was just $1.45m. This figure represents a drop of 95.5% in comparison to the same month last year.

The cancellation of the March Madness was a big blow, as this college basketball tournament is always a massive earner for sportsbooks. April figures are expected to be equally as low due to no sporting events of note taking place. 

However, Jason Scott from BetMGM did note that other betting markets have seen double or triple their usual betting volume. This includes the likes of Asian baseball and soccer in Belarus. 

In anticipation of UFC 249, and with casinos remaining closed in Nevada, a number of sportsbooks are offering drive-thru sports betting services. The likes of William Hill and Circa Sports are allowing people to sign up for mobile sports betting accounts and make deposits at these drive-thrus in casino parking lots. 

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