If you want to get a glimpse into the near future of sports betting in Virginia, check out the live in-game betting options available this week with The Masters 2020 at Augusta National.
The Masters Tournament is one of golf’s four majors, and Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia plays host each year. The 72-par 7,475-yard course has a prize pool of $11.5 million this year.
The Masters is usually the first major of the PGA season. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers rescheduled it for this week.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) November 8, 2020
The four-day tournament featuring the world’s best golfers takes place this Thursday, Nov. 12 to Sunday, Nov. 15. ESPN will have TV coverage on Thursday and Friday (1-5:30 p.m. ET). Then, CBS will carry the final rounds on Saturday (1-5 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
Golf fans have been counting down the days to this year’s delayed tournament. However, golf bettors will definitely be tuned in. After all, thanks to both pre-tournament and in-game wagering, the 2020 Masters offers a cornucopia of betting options.
How in-game betting works in golf
The first Virginia sports betting apps could start taking wagers as soon as January. The arrival of regulated sports betting will give veteran sports bettors legal wagering options here right in Old Dominion.
However, newer and long-ago sports bettors may be surprised by the variety of betting options that the industry currently offers. That goes doubly so when it comes to a more niche sports like golf, which offers an endless stream of betting possibilities.
Let’s start with the classics, all of which have varying betting odds:
- To win: Pick the tournament winner from the list of entrants
- Head-to-head: Pick which of two golfers will finish the tourney better
- Round leader: Pick the golfer who will win a specific round/day of the tournament
- Top 3 (and Top 5, Top 10, Top 20, etc.): Bet on a golfer’s finishing position in the tournament
- Make cut or miss cut: Predict whether a certain golfer will make or miss the cut after two rounds of play
- Prop bets: These bets come in all forms and usually don’t have a direct impact on the outcome of the tournament (i.e., “Will any golfer score a hole-in-one during the tournament?”)
- Groups: Pick the top-performing golfer from a group (who are sometimes divided by home country, alma mater, age group, etc.)
- Futures: Pick the season champion or wager on a future major, award winner, or anything else later in the year
With live betting, though, the wagering options become virtually limitless. You can jump in and out of the action throughout the day and tournament.
With constantly changing odds, a bettor could take part in live betting to wager on, among things:
- Tournament winner: Predict the victor as the odds shift after each hole and even stroke
- Individual holes: Pick a golfer from a group to win, lose or tie a specific hole
- Individual score: Predict how a golfer will do on a specific hole (birdie, par, bogey, etc.)
- Two-ball live betting (or three-ball): Pick the winner from a group of two or three golfers who teed off together
Live wagering sparked PGA interest during pandemic
As more and more US states legalize sports betting, we’ve seen much of the market shift online. Bettors no longer have to go to a brick-and-mortar locations to place a wager, and they certainly don’t need to go to Las Vegas. In fact, upon its launch, the entire Virginia sport betting market will be conducted online. Retail sports betting will come later.
However, in addition to a shift to online wagering, the future of sports betting is likely live wagering.
Earlier this year, when the coronavirus began to take root, much of the sports world shut down. Gamblers who had grown accustomed to year-round offerings were suddenly desperate for action. They hit the offshore and black markets to wager on the weather, stock market indexes, bitcoin’s price, and even simulations of sports games.
However, though nearly every sports organization of note shut down for at least a few weeks during this period, a few were back up and running just weeks later. The NBA, MLB, and NHL were all forced to shut down while they put safety and testing plans together. But smaller and more nimble operations, the UFC, NASCAR and, yes, the PGA, for example, ditched live spectators and were again broadcasting in short order.
Although overseas table tennis and other new obsessions have maintained some of its new fan/gambling base, another aspect of pandemic-era sports betting has persisted: live betting. Bettors were suddenly flush with nonstop betting options for the PGA and UFC, for example.
If you’re in or near a state with legal sports betting, be sure to check out the live-wagering options for the Masters this week. After all, such wagering questions – coupled with live streams of games and events – could be the future.
As Keith Wachtel, the chief business officer at the NHL, said of the future:
“Of all the things betting operators are really clamoring for, it’s that experience, because it allows people to engage in the game while they’re betting. I think it’s going to be a huge opportunity in the future. Obviously you don’t want to cannibalize the broadcast and digital streaming business. But if you can include that as one of your offers, I think it’s a tremendous opportunity.”
A look at the 2020 Masters Field
What can you expect with the 2020 Masters tournament?
If you swoon over star-studded fields, this year’s Masters is a can’t-miss affair.
All five of the world’s top-ranked golfers are in action. No surprise, they’re among the favorites in this week’s tourney field.
They include No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson (+900), No. 2 Jon Rahm (+1000), No. 3 Justin Thomas (+1200), No. 4 Collin Morikawa (+3500), and No. 5 Rory McIlroy (+1200).
However, keep an eye on Bryson DeChambeau. The polarizing tank of a golfer, who won the US Open by six strokes in September, is No. 6 in the world rankings. However, he is the Masters favorite at +800 to win it all at both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Johnson (+1,400), DeChambeau (+1,600), Rahm (+2,000), McIlroy (+2,200), Thomas (+2,200), and Xander Schauffele (+2,200) are also the favorites to be the first-round leader (FRL).
However, Tiger Woods, who’s won 82 PGA tournaments and 15 majors, is another golfer who’s likely to garner much of the betting world’s attention this week.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) November 8, 2020
The public loves to sweat Woods’ action, especially considering the 44-year-old legend won his fifth green jacket last year at the 2019 Masters.
Here’s a look at the various Woods betting options for the 2020 Masters:
- To win tourney: +4,500
- Leader after Round 1: +4,000
- To make cut: -278
- To miss cut: +200
- Top American finisher: +2,200
- Matchup: Woods (-159) vs. Phil Mickelson (+125)
No. 12-ranked and fan-favorite Brooks Koepka (+2,500) is also likely to garner a lot of wagering action.
However, this year’s field will be void of 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia, 2020 Rookie of the Year Scottie Scheffler, and young Chilean star Joaquin Niemann after failed COVID-19 tests.