Many sportsbooks around the world are struggling to find betting markets during the coronavirus pandemic. Maybe that’s why some offshore sites are now offering COVID-19 betting to their customers.
The New Paper in Singapore reported Thursday that it had found several websites targeting local bettors by offering a variety of coronavirus markets.
COVID-19 Betting Markets Based on Southeast Asian Reports
In one case, the newspaper reported that a site was offering COVID-19 betting on the final digit in the number of new daily cases announced in Southeast Asian nations like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Bettors could also put money down on whether or not the number of reported cases would be higher or lower than the previous day, or if the next reported number would be odd or even.
The markets are targeting Singaporean gamblers who don’t have legal options to choose from. Local casinos have closed and other common gambling outlets in the country are also shuttered by the coronavirus outbreak.
They need this regular fix,” Dr. Adrian Wang, a psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, told the newspaper. “Like an alcoholic who suddenly finds himself unable to afford whisky and has to settle for cheap rice wine, problem gamblers who can’t bet in the casino or on suspended soccer games, they will take what’s available.”
Other doctors interviewed by The New Paper also worried that the COVID-19 betting market would attract problem gamblers, even if many others might find those wagers distasteful.
“[Problem gamblers will] bet on deaths, or when a serial killer will be caught, a lot of strange things,” Dr. Munidasa Winslow, senior consultant psychiatrist at Promises Healthcare, told The New Paper. “Even if they are gambling on people’s lives, they will make that bet if someone is willing to accept it.”
Poker Players Debate Ethics of Coronavirus Bets
COVID-19 betting has been a topic of debate among poker players in particular. Several players, including Doug Polk and Dan O’Brien, have entertained bets that organizers would cancel the World Series of Poker this summer. More recently, Chris Hunichen wagered $10,000 against his Twitter followers that more than 100,000 people in the United States would die from the disease by Sept. 1.
Want to take over 100k deaths from covid-19 in US by September 1st. Must know you or if I don’t you must post or escrow.
— Chris Hunichen (@BigHuni) April 5, 2020
That bet might sound morbid. But Hunichen told his followers he hoped he would lose – and that maybe they would stay home if there was money on the line.
I was trying to raise awareness,” Hunichen told The Los Angeles Times. “This is really a bad problem and, if people aren’t going to stay home and take it seriously, it’s only going to get worse.”
Bettors around the world are turning to online gambling sites during the pandemic, as options for real world entertainment are becoming hard to come by. In Australia, one study found that the average spend at online gambling sites was up 67 percent during the coronavirus shutdowns, with similar bumps being reported in the United States and other countries.