With the cancellation of sports events due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers are finding new and creative ways to engage with consumers.
To make up some of the difference, in basketball at least, the NBA 2K20 video game tournament, broadcast on ESPN consists of games among 16 current NBA players, who are seeded based on their past performances, and battle one another.
But suspicions were raised when during the first game, when a wave of bets were placed on 16th-seeded Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. to beat top-seed Kevin Durant, forward for the Brooklyn Nets, which he did 78-62 on Friday.
"When we posted the first-round matchup lines and the bets were completely one-sided toward Jones Jr., it became obvious someone knew the outcome of the game," said Robert Cooper, SportsBetting.ag odds manager.
David Strauss, Head Oddsmaker at MyBookie.ag also noted it was obvious the results of tournament were leaked. As a result, all offshore bets were suspended. The losses were not reputedly significant, but it does put the future of similar events into question.
Offshore betting is not sanctioned in the US and the lack of real-time sports games means bets on even remotely sport-related events will likely remain an issue.
The next round of the tournament is set to air on ESPN2 on April 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Certain streaming sites will also offer viewers a chance to watch the game.
The winner receives $100,000 from 2K, the NBA and the NBA Players Association, which will go toward charities supporting coronavirus relief efforts.