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Sportsbet has seen a fall in active users as sports are cancelled and postponed due to the coronavirus

Sharon Masige
  • Betting company Sportsbet has seen a drop in active users following sporting event cancellations caused by the coronavirus.
  • However, there has also been a small increase in betting on esports.
  • Tabcorp said in a statement it will be reducing costs and capital expenditure "where it reasonably can".
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Gambling companies have seen a decline in the number of users amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Betting company Sportsbet told Business Insider Australia it has seen a drop in user numbers after sporting events were cancelled due to the coronavirus.

"Given the unprecedented level of uncertainty within the community as a result of COVID-19, followed by the cancellation of sporting codes both locally and abroad, we have observed a drop in the number of active customers," Stuart Allott, Sportsbet head of corporate affairs, told Business Insider Australia.

Several sporting events have been cancelled or suspended in Australia and around the world, including the latest NBA season, the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, the English Premier League, the NRL and the AFL premiership. Thoroughbred, harness, and greyhound racing events, however, are still going ahead in Australia, but there are restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend.

But despite the reduced user numbers, Allott told Business Insider Australia Sportsbet has seen a small rise in engagement when it comes to esports. Esports that are still active include the Esports Championship Series and the League of Legends competitions.

"We have observed consistent engagement across Australian racing codes to date, and a rise in other markets, such as esports, although these markets are very small," Allott added.

On its website, Sportsbet said COVID-19 has seen users taking more notice of novelty betting markets, like the outcomes of reality tv series such as Married at First Sight and Masterchef. And for the more "high-brow" punters, there's growing focus on political events like the 2020 US presidential election.

"The team at Sportsbet remain dedicated to our customers, and will continue to closely monitor markets both locally and abroad," Allott said.

The federal government on Sunday announced that venues such as pubs, clubs, restaurants and casinos would close from midday on Monday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Gambling entertainment company Tabcorp – which operates brands including TAB, Keno, The Lott (lotteries) and Sky Racing – said it understands convenience stores and newsagencies will remain open, although the status of newsagencies is yet to be confirmed.

Tabcorp managing director and CEO David Attenborough said in a statement the health and safety of its people, partners and community are the company's main priority.

"We are working with governments, regulators, and our venue and racing industry partners to manage the impact on them, our customers and our businesses during this unprecedented period," he said.

"We recognise how difficult this situation is for our people, our industry partners and the community, and we are committed to using the strength of our business model and our enduring partnerships to come through this stronger, together."

Attenborough added that Tabcorp has continued operating, with a vast majority of its employees working remotely.

Tabcorp said in a statement it is "not currently in a position to provide specific guidance on earnings or financial impact" because of the coronavirus outbreak. However, the company will be reducing operating costs and capital expenditure "where it reasonably can".

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