Apr 11, 2020 - Sports

Desperate gamblers turn to obscure sports during coronavirus lockdown

Table tennis played in Beijing

Table tennis at Ritan Park on March 23 in Beijing, China. Photo: Di Yin/Getty Images

Niche activities like marble racing, table tennis and Swedish trotting are gaining popularity among gamblers forced to drop mainstream sports due to the coronavirus, the Financial Times reports.

Why it matters: Sports betting, which was set for a banner year before the COVID-19 crisis, is expected to take an 11% hit in overall gambling revenue this year, per estimates from H2 Gambling Capital.

Details: Table tennis has become the fifth-biggest revenue-gaining sport for British sports betting company GVC Holdings.

  • Swedish bookmaker ATG has reported a 465% international revenue surge for trotting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The YouTube channel "Jelle’s Marble Runs" has seen subscribers spike by over 100,000 in less than a month, per the Times.

The bottom line: These obscure sports "are unlikely to remain popular once mainstream fixtures return," the Times reports.

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