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NBA season suspended as player tests positive for Covid-19


The National Basketball Association (NBA) has suspended the 2019-20 season indefinitely after  a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

The league announced the suspension yesterday (11 March), just before the Jazz were set to tip off against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Although the NBA did not name the player who tested positive, Jazz centre Rudy Gobert had been ruled questionable with an illness going into the game and multiple reports have named Gobert as the affected player.

The NBA said that the affected player was not in Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena, where the game was scheduled to take place, at the time of the announcement.

“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the league said.

The suspension is likely to lead to a significant decline in revenue for the sports betting industry. In January, Nevada’s legal sportsbooks took in $12.6m in revenue on a handle of $225.1m from all basketball bets – including collegiate basketball and leagues abroad. New Jersey made $9.4m in basketball revenue on a handle of $177.5m in the same month.

Spanish association football league La Liga has also been suspended for matchdays 28 and 29 after the Real Madrid squad went into quarantine after a member of the club’s basketball team tested positive for the virus.

La Liga said that the decision will be re-evaluated after the quarantine is completed. The news follows Australian operator PointsBet was selected as La Liga North America’s official betting partner.

The outbreak of the virus has already had a substantial impact on the gambling industry elsewhere, with H2 Gambling Capital expecting the outbreak to lead to a decline of up to 8% in global gambling gross win in 2020.

Gambling revenue in Macau plummeted 87.8% year-on-year to MOP3.10bn (£303.4m/€349.6m/$387.4m), after Executive Order 39/2020 ordered all casinos to cease operations on 5 February.

Italy’s nationwide lockdown announced on 9 March, meanwhile, led Playtech to close all of its Snaitech retail shops in the country.