November 25, 2020

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In the coronavirus sports void, these are the desperate bets gamblers are making – CNBC

In the coronavirus sports void, these are the desperate bets gamblers are making - CNBC

A worker cleans an escalator on Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Joe Buglewicz | Bloomberg | Getty Images

For Duane Colucci, Thursday should have been one of the biggest days of the year. Colucci works as assistant race and sports manager at the Rampart Casino in Las Vegas, where the opening weekend of March Madness serves as an annual gambling holiday, second only to the Super Bowl. But where guests would normally be eating, drinking and placing bets, the casino floor now sits empty. And Colucci sits on his couch at home.

“How do you prepare for a complete shutdown of major sporting events [and] any gatherings over 50 people?” Colucci said. “It’s so hard to fathom. You can’t prepare for something like this, especially in the race and sportsbook industry.”

This is the “Viva Las Vegas” reality in the middle of a global pandemic. As the U.S. enacts measures to contend with the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and people are advised to self-isolate and distance themselves from others, all professional and collegiate sports in the country have suspended play. And in Las Vegas, the beating heart of the sports gambling industry, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered a monthly ban on all casinos and non-essential businesses.

Colucci speculated this lost weekend could cost the sportsbook industry $140 million. This suspension comes just as legalized sports gambling has exploded across the country.  Since the Supreme
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