It’s been a long wait for the return of the major American sports. However, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel.
Every major sport played in the US is nearing a return, but each is coming back in a different format than most are used to.
Of course, any sports being played is a welcome sight for bettors and WV sportsbooks. Even though retail casinos are still closed for at least another week, residents in West Virginia have been wagering with the online sports betting apps available.
Sportsbooks have consisted of table tennis and soccer. More recently, UFC, NASCAR, and golf have been on the board.
In fact, this weekend bettors can find action on UFC Fight Night 176 and NASCAR Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol. And while something is better than nothing, the WV sports betting crowd is waiting for their favorites to return.
As the country begins to open up, the big four American sports are approaching their restart.
Both the NHL and NBA were nearly complete with their regular seasons when the shutdown went into effect. Major League Baseball, along with the NFL are on the other side of the coin. They are still in the process of determining the best route to start their newest seasons.
Although MLB is still working out some financial issues, the NHL and NBA are just about ready to get going.
Let’s breakdown how these major sports leagues plan to return and when fans can expect to see their favorite teams back on the field.
The NBA typically begins its postseason with 16 total teams, eight from each conference. However, with the extenuating circumstances, every possible option is being considered.
One popular choice is seeding the league’s top 16 teams in order, regardless of conference affiliation. This could pair up a Western Conference team going against one from the East in the opening round.
Another possible format involves a group stage that soccer fans might be familiar with. Teams would be formed together in separate groups that would play one another.
After some type of round-robin tournament within each group, the group winners (and potentially others) would advance. The remaining teams would form a more usual playoff format with a bracket to determine the champion.
This would create a very exciting new wrinkle to the NBA, and plenty of new opportunities for bettors. Every game would be crucial and teams wouldn’t be able to rely on the usual long, seven-game series.
The biggest question regarding the NBA’s reboot is how many teams would actually be involved. Portland Trailblazers’ star guard Damian Lillard expressed his concerns about playing at all if the league forced teams to play a few “regular season” games.
If the Blazers can’t participate in the playoffs, then he doesn’t see the point in competing at all.
The format for the potential pool play could feature anywhere between 16 to 30 teams, too.
Right now, it appears that the NBA will get going again sometime in late July.
Regardless of how the playoffs will be determined, games seem poised to take place at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
NHL Playoff Format
The other winter sport set to finish its season this summer is the NHL. Unlike the NBA, the NHL knows its postseason plan and is already getting the ball rolling.
The league announced this week that its regular season is complete, and teams will jump right into the playoffs upon return.
The Return To Play Plan will consist of the NHL’s top 24 teams, leaving out the bottom seven.
Similar to some of the NBA’s proposals, the NHL landed on a new format that it’s never used previously. Although teams will compete against their usual conference foes, it won’t be how fans are accustomed to.
Each conference’s top four teams will play in order to settle the top four seeds. These franchises will go up against each other in a round-robin arrangement.
The other eight teams on each side will play one another in a more typical format. They will face-off in a best-of-five game series with the normal playoff overtime rules in effect.
First-round matchups are organized as follows:
- 5 seed vs. No. 12 seed
- 6 seed vs. No. 11 seed
- 7 seed vs. No. 10 seed
- 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed
Winners from these playoff series will advance and play the conferences’ top four sides.
While the league is unsure of how many games will be played in the following two rounds, it has stated that the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will include best-of-seven series.
Hockey’s return is exciting in general, but coming back right into the postseason should be very memorable. The qualifying round will most likely prove to be quite popular for fans and at sportsbooks.
The NHL is planning on starting formal training camps in late July and will begin play from two hub cities determined at a future date.
NFL Rule Changes
The NFL is still several months away from its originally scheduled season opener, but it’s definitely keeping an eye on how other leagues operate. The league released its regular-season schedule recently and has not altered any starting dates at this time.
Even though summer training camps are still in the distance, the NFL was in the news again this week. On Thursday, teams voted on the rule changes for the 2020 season.
While the often discussed amendment to the onside kick didn’t pass, three different playing rules were added.
The first rule change slightly alters one that was already in effect.
This latest adjustment expands automatic replay review. Now, replay officials can stop the game and review a play that includes scoring plays and turnovers negated by a penalty.
The replay can now view any successful or unsuccessful point-after attempt, too.
Another new rule helps protect defenseless players during returns. Now when returning a kickoff or punt, players are provided even more time before defenders can hit them.
Returners are now protected after they’ve secured the ball until they’ve “had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.”
The final change should be recognized as the Bill Belichick rule. It prevents teams from committing multiple dead-ball penalties in order to manipulate the game clock.
New England took advantage of this loophole last season against the Jets, only to have former Patriot, Mike Vrabel, utilize it against the Pats in the playoffs.
At the moment, the NFL’s regular season is slated to return on Sept. 10, with a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.
WV casinos set to open June 5
Despite having legal sports betting, WV is still without online casino apps. There is a potential that the launch of online casinos in West Virginia sometime this summer.
Since closing the retail casinos in March, the state’s revenue from gambling is very limited.
Land-based sportsbooks, as well as casinos opening their doors for business, will certainly help address the state’s mounting budget deficit.