Tennessee Titans COVID-19 Cases Weigh on Sports Betting Equities

Posted on: September 29, 2020, 10:20h. 

Last updated on: September 29, 2020, 10:37h.

Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) and other equities with sports betting exposure retreated Tuesday. That’s after the NFL confirmed three Tennessee Titans players and five members of the team’s personnel department tested positive for COVID-19.

Titans Viking COVID-19
The Tennessee Titans defeated the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday. Now, both teams are canceling in-person activities because some Titans contracted COVID-19. (Image: Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The team, along with its opponent from last Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings, is suspending in-person activities effective today.

Both clubs are working closely with the NFL and the NFLPA, including our infectious disease experts, to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing, and monitor developments,” according to a statement issued by the league.

Last Sunday, the Titans went on the road, topping the winless Vikings, 31-30. Stephen Gostkowski nailed late field goals of 54 and 55 yards to propel Tennessee to the win, though the team didn’t cover a three-point spread. The NFL did not release the names of the Titans that contracted the virus.

Proves How Important NFL Is

Investors have been down this road before with sports wagering equities. In late July, soon after Major League Baseball (MLB) got its 2020 season going, several games were canceled games because of COVID-19 outbreaks among players, sending the likes of DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) stock lower in the process.

However, the NFL is a different ballgame. Football is the most wagered-on sport in the US, and the league’s ability to execute the traditional 16-game regular season schedule, followed by playoffs and the crucial Super Bowl, is viewed as vital to the near-term fortunes of sports betting companies.

Perhaps surprisingly, DraftKings is lower by just one percent in midday trading, but rival Penn National is off 5.59 percent. That’s either a symptom of too much, too fast, or investors believing the NFL is vital to Penn’s recently launched Barstool Sportsbook app because that platform is currently live in just one state, Pennsylvania.

Other sports betting names slumping today include Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD), which is off 3.33 percent, and Caesars Entertainment (NASDASQ:CZR). Caesars’ more than six percent retreat is likely more attributable to news of a dilutive equity offering aimed at raising capital for a possible takeover of William Hill (OTC:WIMHY) than it is the result of the Titans/Vikings news.

Speaking of William Hill, the largest US sportsbook operator is off about one percent.

Averting Disaster for Now

The NFL said it will share updates “as more information becomes available,” but the league hasn’t commented on the possibility of games being canceled or postponed.

The 3-0 Titans play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, while the Vikings are slated to visit the Houston Texans.

Prior to the start of the NFL season, the healthcare and investment communities expressed concern about the NFL’s plans to proceed with travel, particularly after MLB’s aforementioned COVID-19 issues. Despite limited-to-none fan attendance, teams in those leagues are going on the road.

Conversely, the NBA and NHL played in bubbles in Florida and Canada, respectively. The NHL seasons concluded last night with no positive cases coming back during bubble play, while the NBA has made it through seeding games and three rounds of playoffs without any coronavirus cases.

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