Apr 11, 2020 - Sports

Desperate gamblers turn to obscure sports during coronavirus lockdown

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.

Go deeper: A look back at the month that erased sports

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In photos: Protests intensify across the U.S. over George Floyd's death

Protesters outside the Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 29. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Mass protests in Atlanta, New York City and Washington, D.C., sparked clashes with police on Friday, as demonstrators demanded justice for the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after at least one police officer knelt on his neck on Monday.

The big picture: The officer involved in the killing of Floyd was charged with third-degree murder on Friday, after protests continued in Minneapolis for three days.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 5,923,432— Total deaths: 364,836 — Total recoveries — 2,493,434Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,745,930 — Total deaths: 102,808 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  6. 1 sports thing: NCAA outlines plan to get athletes back to campus.

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Mark Zuckerberg at the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany on February 15. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Facebook did not remove President Trump's threat to send the National Guard to Minneapolis because the company's policy on inciting violence allows discussion on state use of force, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a post on Friday.

The big picture: Zuckerberg's statement comes on the heels of leaked internal criticism from Facebook employees over how the company handled Trump's posts about the Minneapolis protests and his unsubstantiated claims on mail-in ballots — both of which Twitter has now taken action on.