For the sports betting industry, 2020 was supposed to be one for the books. 
The timing for the coronavirus outbreak, however, could not have been worse for the wide-eyed casinos and online sportsbooks operators expecting to capitalize on legal sports wagering expanding across the U.S.
“Timing is really bad because it happened right before March Madness, one of the signature sporting events on the calendar and that was canceled. Obviously the hiatus of NBA and NHL seasons. We should be talking about the first week of Major League Baseball season right about now.” said Joe Asher, CEO of betting site William Hill US in an interview with Cheddar. The company furloughed more than 600 workers amid fallout from the pandemic.
March Madness was expected to be a major revenue driver for sportsbooks. In 2019, Nevada set a new monthly handle record with basketball during March Madness accounting for $495 million. Without the NCAA basketball tournament and the suspension of major sporting events, Nevada’s economy will be hit especially hard, Asher added.
”It's hard to see a complete recovery in Las Vegas until you start to get into 2021, and then you can debate from there when it’s going to be,” Asher said. 
While some bettors are getting their gambling fix by wagering on obscure events including eSports, Madden simulations, Russian table tennis, and sumo wrestling, the volume of betting pales in comparison to what William Hill is used to and does not help fill the revenue gap the sportsbook is experiencing.
“Historically our Nevada business last year made about $45 million in EBIT and that was funding the expansion across the country. [I was] expecting something similar to that for this year until about a month ago.” 
A return by major sports leagues including the NBA and MLB would be an important first-step for the sports betting industry to regain its footing, even if fans are unable to attend. 
“When sports resume I happen to think it’s most likely going to be in an empty arena. Hopefully we can salvage the NBA and NHL seasons and play in empty arenas but be able to broadcast and of course that'll allow people to bet on them,” said Asher.