Odds Set at -650 for Next NBA Game to Be Played in Empty Arena

NBA full stadium
It could be a long time before we see NBA arenas filled with fans again. Photo by ReneS (flickr).
  • Odds are available on whether the NBA’s next game will be played in front of fans 
  • Betting heavily favors the next game to be played in an empty arena
  • Read below for our analysis and prediction

May 1 was an important day in the NBA’s process of returning from the coronavirus-caused suspension. Adam Silver set Friday’s date as the earliest he would make any meaningful decision. While nothing of note surfaced, getting past that date opens up possibilities.

Without any certainty over the league’s resumption, positive thinking about having a 2020 NBA champion is more hope that reasoned thought, but the league remain optimistic they will be able to put on playoffs in some form.

The situation with COVID-19 is constantly developing, and there will obviously be major challenges to bringing basketball back. Those challenges are important when we look at this betting market.

Odds on Next NBA Game Played in Empty Arena

Prop Yes Odds No Odds
Will the next NBA game be played in an empty arena? -625 +375

Odds taken May 2

Unfinished Season

There’s no guarantee this season gets finished. There’s no guarantee when basketball returns. It could be years. Of course, all sports leagues are working to return as soon as possible, but as the pandemic continues to take thousands of lives – it is very hard to predict when sport can come back.

Although the NBA has clearly been open to playing in fan-free arenas, other factors could stop the league’s resumption, potentially cancelling the remainder of this campaign and the start of next. A longer delay, stretching into 2021 or even beyond, should make it more likely the next NBA game is played with fans in the arena.

This scenario isn’t what NBA devotees want to hear, and it would have far-reaching financial implications for the league, but it’s an outcome to be considered as we weigh up this betting market.

Controlling COVID-19 sufficiently to play games might not be possible. Once teams train together, even in a ‘bubble’ as mentioned on ESPN, more cases could quickly halt any plans of playoffs.

Rightly Favored

On the other hand, it’s easy to look at this market and think -625 is a great price. Even if it’s a few more months until the league returns, mass gatherings are a long way off. It’s still unknown if people gain immunity to COVID-19 and a vaccine is nowhere near being ready. Packed sporting venues are not going to be seen in the near future.

The NBA is working tirelessly to figure out a plan to bring the league back. Las Vegas has been mentioned, as have teams’ training facilities and other smaller arenas around the country. Testing could prove to be a roadblock to this in the short-term, however, as the league will need around 15,000 tests for the ‘bubble’ proposal. They need quick and reliable tests, and a lot of them.

Teams will obviously need to function with the minimum number of people, too. It has been reported this could be between 30 and 35. The plans to return, whether at MGM Grand or Walt Disney World, rely on the league and NBPA reaching an agreement, which could yet prove to be what slows these plans.

Every NBA follower wants to start focusing on NBA championship odds rather than speculating about the league’s return. Doing so safely is the most important thing, and that means no fans in the arenas. It’s going to be bizarre for many, and it might not be universally popular, but some basketball is better than no basketball. Maybe the new camera angles make it an even better experience for those watching from home.

Pick: Yes (-625)

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