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Coronavirus Update: Masters In November; British Open Canceled

Coronavirus Update: Masters In November; British Open Canceled
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The coronavirus is affecting millions of people around the world, rattling financial markets, shutting schools and workplaces, forcing quarantines and triggering concern and fear. The worlds of sports and gaming have not been spared. Here is a look at the latest sports-related coronavirus developments and other breaking news of note. Check back here for the latest news:

April 6: Professional Golf Schedule Revamped

A revamped schedule for men's professional golf in 2020 moves the Masters to November and cancels the British Open for the first time since World War II, the golf's governing bodies announced Monday.

The Masters, which was scheduled to be played this week at Augusta National, will be played Nov. 12-15. The Open Championship, scheduled for July 16-19 at Royal St George’s, will not be played this year, The R&A announced Monday.

Other dates for the majors, FedEx and Ryder cups:

  • PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco), Aug 6-9.
  • FedEx Cup: Aug 10-Sept 7.
  • US Open (Winged Foot in New York), Sept. 17-20.
  • Ryder Cup (Whistling Straits in Koehler, Wisconsin), Sept. 25-27.

The 149th Open will be played at the same course in Sandwich, England, July 15-18, 2021, The R&A said. The 150th Open will be played at St Andrews July 14-17, 2022.

“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible," Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said in a statement. “Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open."

Teams Will Draft From Home; NFL Keeps Facilities Closed

Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL teams in a memo on Monday that club facilities are to remain closed. The draft will be “fully virtual,” with team personnel drafting separately from their homes.

Goodell told teams in the memo that "we are operating in an environment unlike anything we have experienced before, one that requires flexibility, patience, and cooperation."

He said the league and its teams need to comply with government directives and to model safe and appropriate health practices.

The draft, originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, will be April 23-25.

Report: UFC 249 Could Be Held On Tribal Land

A new venue for UFC 249 on April 18 could be announced soon and ESPN is reporting that it could be held on tribal land on the West Coast. The UFC has not shared the location with many people outside the company, sources told ESPN. Tribal land does not have to follow state athletic commission regulations.

UFC president Dana White tweeted Monday that Tony Ferguson will meet Justin Gaethje in the main event. His tweet said the the fight, which will be for the interim lightweight belt, is "signed" and "100%" on.

Originally scheduled for the Barclays Center in New York, UFC had to look for a new venue because of the coronavirus. UFC has canceled three events — March 21, March 28 and April 11 — but has tried to keep the April 18 fights on schedule.

More Schedule Adjustments For IndyCar

IndyCar is now tentatively scheduled to start its season June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway after making schedule changes for the third time since the coronavirus disrupted the world — and the sports world.

IndyCar will now run doubleheaders at Iowa Speedway, Laguna Speedway in California and return for a second race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October so it can get in a 15-race schedule, according to the Associated Press. The doubleheader race at Detroit's Belle Island had to be canceled because workers can't construct the track under Michigan's stay-at-home order.

It is the third schedule revision for the series. The Indianapolis 500 will be run in August and not race Memorial Day weekend for the first time in its history.

April 4: Trump Pushes For On-Time NFL Season

President Donald Trump told major league sports commissioners on a conference call Saturday that he believes the NFL season should start on time in September, ESPN reported.

Trump said on the call that he hopes fans can return to stadiums and arenas by August and September. There has been no timeline set by medical officials about any return to large-scale public activity. And local and state officials would have the final say when it comes to any mass gatherings.

April 3: Nevada Offers Wagering On eNASCAR Racing

NASCAR has raced to fill the void in the sports world with virtual races through the iRacing Pro Invitational Series and Friday Nevada became the first state to allow legalized wagering on the weekly simulated action.

Sportsbooks must notify betting patrons that "that eNASCAR iRacing driving simulations and equipment may differ slightly" and that betting will cease once a race begins, according to a release from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

William Hill quickly posted odds for Sunday's virtual race.

“We’re happy to be able to offer eNASCAR and other eSports events on our wagering menu during the current sports climate,” Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill’s U.S. Director of Trading, said in the release. “William Hill was the first sports betting company to post legal eSports odds in the U.S. back in 2016 and we’re working to offer more games as they are approved.”

Timmy Hill is the +400 favorite this week after winning the last eNASCAR race on a faux Texas Motor Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is +650.

The eNASCAR race last Sunday drew 1.3 million total viewers across Fox and FS1 to become the highest-rated televised eSports event ever.

The eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series continues this week from a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. The “Food City Showdown” will air live at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports App.

NFL Plans Hinge On Medical Clearance

While the NFL remains optimistic about beginning its season on time and playing a full schedule, it will not resume unless overriding medical conditions allow it to do so.

Dr. Allen Sills, NFL chief medical officer, said widespread, point-of-care testing for coronavirus and the removal of bans on large public gatherings — among other factors — must be in place in order for games to occur as they normally would.

Earlier this week, NFL general counsel, Jeff Pash said the league's "expectation" was to play a full season beginning as planned in September.

"I think what was implied there [by Pash] was to say we are not at a point where we are saying that is absolutely not going to happen so we should continue our planning and preparations as if we're going to be able to do that," Stills told Thursday. "But obviously we're going to have to evaluate that along the way. And follow what the recommendations are from public health officials and from our infectious-disease experts and others."

Meanwhile, the Patriots, the state of Massachusetts and multiple public agencies teamed up to get 1.2 million facemasks from China to medical personnel in New England and New York.

U.S. Women's Open Slides Back To December

The U.S. Women's Open golf tournament been postponed to December due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was set to be held at Champions Golf Club in Houston from June 4-7. It will now take place Dec. 10-13 at the same venue.

"The USGA remains committed to hosting the U.S. Women's Open in 2020," USGA CEO Mike Davis said in a statement. "We are grateful to the LPGA and our broadcast partner FOX for their terrific collaboration in finding a new date for the championship. Our priority remains ensuring the safety of all involved with the U.S. Women's Open, while still providing the world's best players the opportunity to compete this year."

SEC Extends Suspension Of All Athletic Activity

April 1: Wimbledon Cancels For 2020

The Wimbledon tennis tournament will not be held this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It's the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament has been canceled.

Wimbledon was scheduled to be played from June 29 to July 12 on the club’s famed grass courts in London. The tournament will next be played from June 28 to July 11, 2021. The ATP and WTA also suspended the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours until at least July 13, pushing back from an original hold date of June 7.

A report that said the 2020 British Open would be canceled was disputed by the R&A Thursday.

"We are continuing to work through our options for The Open this year, including postponement. Due to a range of external factors, that process is taking some time to resolve," Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said in a statement. "We are well aware of the importance of being able to give clear guidance to fans, players and everyone involved and are working to resolve this as soon as we can. We will give a further update as soon as we are in a position to do so and thank everyone for their support and understanding in this challenging situation."

The Masters and PGA Championship have been postponed until later in 2020. The British Open has been played continuously every year since 1946.

The Open is set to be contested at Royal St. George's Golf Club starting July 16. It returns to The Old Course at St. Andrews next year, Royal Liverpool in 2022 and Royal Troon in 2023.

Tiger-Phil-Brady-Manning Match A Go

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be joined by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in a golf match organized by AT&T’s WarnerMedia and the PGA Tour, CNBC reports.

Mickelson and Brady would team up against Woods and Manning. Mickelson and Woods faced off in a one-on-one, $9 million winner-take-all match play event on Black Friday in 2018. Mickelson, a prohibitive underdog, won it on the 22nd hole in an improvised playoff format in Las Vegas. Legal wagering in the United States was allowed on that Woods-Mickelson match. This upcoming event would mark a turning point in the sports world that has been shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.

The May match would benefit charity and air on TNT and other non-pay-per-view platforms within WarnerMedia, CNBC said.

March 31: NFL Plans On-Time Start In September

Unbowed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered sports world-wide, the NFL plans to start its 2020 season on time in September and play a full 16-game schedule in front of fans.

"That's our expectation," NFL executive vice president/general counsel Jeff Pash said Tuesday, according to ESPN. "Am I certain of that? I'm not certain I'll be here tomorrow. But I'm planning on it, and in the same way, we're planning on having a full season."

The league has not made any alternative plans for a delayed start or games without fans because its "medical resources and models have indicated those plans might not be necessary," ESPN reported. The NFL Draft — in a virtual form — remains on schedule for April 23-25 but the league's schedule release has been delayed to May 9.

Toronto Bans Some Public Events Until July

Toronto banned all city-permitted public gatherings, events and festivals until the start of July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada's largest city is home to the NBA champion Raptors, the NHL's Maple Leafs and the Blue Jays of the MLB's American League East. The order does not apply to its sports teams as of now, however,

Pro sports across North America have been postponed due to the shutdowns and quarantines associated with the coronavirus pandemic. None of the major professional leagues have been able to set a firm date for a return. MLB owners and players last week agreed to a potential 2020 format that would allow for a full season to begin on June 1 and an abbreviated season to begin on July 1.

The plan also includes neutral site postseason games in November and multiple double-headers. Baseball executives are also considering playing games without fans in the stands, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.

However, the MLB plan also requires:

  • No bans on public events where games would be played.
  • No travel restrictions in the U.S. or Canada.
  • Medical clearance that games would not create health risks for fans, players, and other personnel.

China Delays Return of Team Sports

Bettors, fans, players and owners who remain hopeful of seeing the 2019-20 NBA season resume this spring got a setback Tuesday when the Chinese Basketball Association and all other group sporting events in China were restricted from resuming play. Many saw the potential return of the Chinese league as a benchmark to measure a return of NBA play.

The CBA halted play in January and was set to return April 15 and then again in May. This new order does not include a timetable. Officials are wary about the potential asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 who could spread the virus to others in a crowded venue.

March 30: 2021 Olympics Set Starting Date

The 2021 Tokyo Olympics will open July 23 — 364 days after the Games were to start before they were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The schedule for the Games is key to preparing for the Games," Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said. "This will only accelerate our progress."

The Games were set to begin this year on July 24 and close on Aug. 9. The 2021 Games will close on Aug. 8, 2021.

March 27: NFL Draft To Proceed As Scheduled

The NFL continues to defy gravity and the coronavirus pandemic. The NFL Draft will be held as scheduled on April 23-25, Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed Thursday in a letter sent to teams.

The league has adjusted to the pandemic like everyone else. But its free-agency period began as if it was any other year, save for the fact that Tom Brady signed with Tampa Bay.

The league's CEC was "unanimous and unequivocal that the Draft should go forward as scheduled," the letter said, according to Sports Illustrated.

"Everyone recognizes that public health conditions are highly uncertain and there is no assurance that we can select a different date and be confident that conditions will be significantly more favorable than they are today," Goodell wrote. "I also believe that the Draft can serve a very positive purpose for our clubs, our fans, and the country at large, and many of you have agreed."

Baseball Sets Tentative Schedule For 2020

Major League Baseball players and owners agreed on Friday to a framework for a 162-game season in 2020 that has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal opens the door for the possibility of neutral site World Series games in late November.

MLB will try to play as close to a full schedule as possible, with regular-season games in October and a November postseason.

The deal calls for a minimum of 100 games, pandemic permitting, and weekly doubleheaders. Players will be given credit for a full season of service time, regardless of how many games are played. This means that Mookie Betts could become a free agent without ever playing a game in Dodger blue.

U.S. Open Faces Postponement

The U.S. Open golf tournament has been postponed, the New York Post reports.

The event will still be held at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., later in the summer, a source close to the USGA told the Post. The U.S. Open It was set to run from June 18-21.

The Masters and PGA Championship were delayed earlier due to the pandemic. The Masters was set for April 9-12; it might be played in October. The PGA was to be played at Harding Park in San Francisco on May 14-17. It will likely be held during the summer.

March 26: Opening Day Arrives without Baseball

What would have been MLB's Opening Day arrived Thursday without baseball as all major pro and collegiate sports across North America remain shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Baseball offered fans a buffet of past games across various platforms for fans to watch as millions are hunkered down at home practicing social distancing and/or are under official quarantines.

For those who have been pre-occupied of late, the Washington Nationals are defending World Series champions. The Nationals are +2000 to repeat as champions in 2020 MLB futures betting at Caesars. The Yankees are the +400 betting favorite to win the 2020 World Series, if or when it is played, at DraftKings. Mike Trout of the Angels is favored to win the MVP in the American League, fetching +150 at BetMGM, and BetMGM also has Ronald Acuna Jr. at +400 to win National League honors.

Nevada Adds Counter-Strike Wagers

Bettors in Nevada will be able to wager on Counter-Strike as eSports continue to gain traction among legal sports books.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has allowed betting on ESL Pro League Season 11: North America action. The wagers are head-to-head, winner of each match and overall season winners. The season began March 16 and is scheduled to run through April 13.

Indy 500 Postponed Until August

The Indy 500 has been pushed back from its traditional Memorial Day Weekend run to August.

The 2020 Indianapolis 500 was scheduled to run May 24. Instead the green flag will drop on Aug. 23. It marks the 104th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and the first time it was not to be held during the month of May.

Gaming Stocks Mixed

Gaming stocks were mixed on Wall Street after massive upward swings in the past two weeks. Wynn shed 4.73% to close at $71.51. It had been trading lower than $50 per share last Friday. MGM Resorts gained 3.86% to settle at $13.45. It bottomed out at $7.14 per share on March 14. Penn National has enjoyed a wild ride lately. Penn bottomed at $4.52 at the close on Wed., March 18, Thursday, it shed 8.93% to settle at $13.26. Caesars Entertainment was barely changed at $7.04. It was $3.52 on the 18th.

March 25: Boras Pitches Possible World Series on Christmas

Baseball super agent Scott Boras is optimistic that Major League Baseball could play a full season in 2020, which would include the possibility of a World Series game on Christmas Day.

Boras has been using his down time during the coronavirus pandemic to come up with a way for baseball to keep most of its regular-season schedule intact and keep its current playoff system, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Among the possibilities for 2020, the Times reports, is an 81-game regular season beginning around July 1 and a postseason in October.

Boras is more optimistic and believes the season could start in June. His proposal submitted to Major League Baseball includes a 162-game regular season that begins on June 1, and a 144-season that begins on July 1.

The postseason would run from Dec. 3-26 in either case. It would include wild-card games, a five-game division series, a seven-game championship series and a seven-game World Series. Postseason games would be played in neutral sites - including MLB's eight domed stadiums and at three open-air stadiums in Southern California.

“It’s workable. We’ve done climate studies, and in Southern California, the average temperature in December is 67 degrees, which is better than late March and early April in most cities. We have 11 stadiums we could play postseason games in. I’m gonna get my neutral-site World Series after all," Boras told the Times.

March 24: Tokyo Games Pushed Back Until 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the first postponement of the Summer Olympic Games since World War II.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been pushed back until 2021, Japan and the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday.

The move by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach came after multiple countries and athletic organizations either pulled out or lobbied for the Games to be delayed.

The Games were canceled in 1916 due to World War I and in 1940 and '44 for World War II.

March 23: Report Says 2020 Tokyo Games To Be Postponed

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will likely be postponed to 2021, Christine Brennan of USA TODAY reports.

The logistics and details will be worked out in a month or two, according to IOC member Dick Pound.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

On Monday, Abe said the Games were facing a possible postponement due to health and safety concerns from the coronavirus.

Olympic officials in Canada and Australia will not be sending teams to the Games this summer and U.S. swimming and track-and-field governing groups also voiced their opposition to participating in the Games.

The ripple effect of the coronavirus pandemic has already caused the cancellation of many key qualifying events and tournaments. Thousands of athletes remain in limbo.

NASCAR Runs Virtual Race

NASCAR raced Sunday, using the iRacing platform.

Legal betting on the race was not available. Circa Sports had odds posted on the race in Nevada but they were taken down.

The winner of the Dixie Vodka 150 run on the virtual Homestead-Miami track was Denny Hamlin.

“For the community, the racing community, the NASCAR drivers to come together and put drivers on the racetrack with such short notice, everyone is buying up simulation rigs this week and last week getting ready for the event, and for it all to come together and have a great finish, I think it was definitely a success,” Hamlin said, via the AP.

The faux race was broadcast live on Fox Sports 1. NASCAR has postponed all its races until at least May 9 but has been pro-active in developing its virtual component. The race was the first in the inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

March 20: TB2TB - Tom Brady Makes It Official

Tom Brady officially joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday, posting an image of himself signing a contract to play for his second NFL team.

"Excited, humble and hungry," Brady wrote on Instagram. "Nobody cares what you did last year or the year before that. I’m starting a new football journey. I’m just gonna get to work! #Year1."

Brady reportedly never received a serious contract from the Patriots this offseason. He was eligible for free agency for the first time in his career. His deal with the Bucs is for two years, fully guaranteed.

In other NFL news of note: the Atlanta Falcons brought running back Todd Gurley back to Georgia and the Broncos landed running back Melvin Gordon.

XFL Calls Off Entire Season

The XFL canceled the remainder of its inaugural season due to the coronavirus outbreak. XFL players will be free to sign with NFL teams on Monday.

"We're grateful for the incredible response and look forward to playing full seasons for you - and with you - in 2021 and beyond," the league said in a release.

March 19: Marcus Smart, 2 Lakers Test Positive

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart said Thursday night that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Two unnamed players for the Los Angeles Lakers also tested positive for the virus, the team said.

Smart took to social media to detail how he was feeling and to offer his advice to others.

"I’ve had no symptoms and I feel great. But the younger generation in our country MUST self distance. This is not a joke. Not doing so is selfish. Together we can beat this, but we must beat it together by being apart for a short while. Much love!!" Smart posted on Twitter.

The Los Angeles Lakers played the Brooklyn Nets on March 10, losing 104-102. Four players on the Nets, including Kevin Durant, have also tested positive for the virus.

"We learned today that two Lakers players have tested positive. Both players are currently asymptomatic, in quarantine and under the care of the team’s physician," the Lakers said in a release.

Meanwhile, three members of the Philadelphia 76ers staff also have coronavirus, the team said.

English Soccer On Hold Until At Least April 30

There will be no professional soccer played in the United States or England for the foreseeable future.
There will be no professional soccer played in the United States or England for the foreseeable future.

The 2020-21 pro soccer season in England will not begin until the 2019-20 campaign is concluded, ESPN reports.

The pro soccer shutdown in England triggered by the coronavirus pandemic will run until at least April 30, officials said.

The deadline for the end of the 2019-20 season has been extended "indefinitely."

"We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019-20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so," the Football Association, Premier League and EFL said in a statement.

Gaming Stocks Surge

Gaming stocks erased many of the sharp losses they suffered earlier in the week on Wall Street Thursday.

Penn National, MGM Resorts, Wynn, Las Vegas Sands and Boyd Gaming were among the top gainers Thursday. Penn was the biggest winner. It traded at more than 35% from its Wednesday close as investors saw the recent declines as a buying opportunity. Those sentiments were shared by a Bank of America in a note to clients citing "widespread buying opportunities among casino companies."

Several casino stocks were crushed earlier this week, with shares of Penn, MGM and Wynn down more than 30%. Nevada closed all of its 440 brick-and-mortar casinos for at least 30 days on Tuesday.

March 18: Casinos Close In Nevada

All brick-and-mortar gaming operations in Nevada have ceased after an order from the governor to close all "nonessential" businesses for 30 days.

All onsite devices and games were shut down as of midnight local time. The physical casinos were ordered closed as of noon Wednesday local time.

SuperBookUSA, GC Technologies and Station Casinos had closed their online betting platforms within the state as of Wednesday.

Circa Sports, Caesars, BetMGM and William Hill Nevada continue to take action in Nevada via in-state betting apps. William Hill was promoting limited action early Wednesday,

Gov. Steve Sisolak’s historic move shuttered 440 licensed casinos. The move leaves tens of thousands of workers facing an uncertain economic future.

Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, took to Twitter after the governor's announcement.

Gaming Stocks Crushed Again

Gaming stocks were trounced again on Wall Street Wednesday.

Penn National lost 38.34% of its value and closed at $4.52 per share. It closed at $38.17 on Feb. 20. MGM Resorts shed 25.09% of its market cap to settle at $7.14. Other big losers included: Caesars Entertainment — down 30.98% to close at $3.52; Boyd Gaming — down 29.18% to close at $7.84 and Wynn — down 20.89% to close at $43.02.

Overall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 6.3%.

NFL Free-Agent Deals Official

Dozens of reported moves became official at 4 p.m. as the NFL free-agency period began despite the sports shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the big moves either completed or expected to be completed soon: QB Tom Brady to the Buccaneers, QB Philip Rivers to the Colts, S Malcolm Jenkins to the Saints, DT Gerald McCoy to the Giants, OL Ted Karras to the Dolphins and S Duron Harmon to the Lions (trade).

Grand Prix of Long Beach Scrubbed

The 2020 Grand Prix of Long Beach has been canceled and won’t be rescheduled.

The IndyCar race was originally scheduled for April 17-19.

March 17: NFL Rolls On

The NFL free-agency season began with a fury on Tuesday as Tom Brady announced he was leaving the Patriots and landed in Tampa Bay, the Colts landed Philip Rivers, Cam Newton parted ways with the Carolina Panthers and Drew Brees struck a deal to stay in New Orleans.

Betting markets pointed toward Brady signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the odds for the Patriots to win Super Bowl 55 tumbled and odds for the Patriots to win their 12th straight AFC East title tightened. The Panthers are reportedly working on a deal to sign QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Kevin Durant Has Coronavirus

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets says he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Durant is one of four players on the Nets who has tested positive for the virus.

PGA Championship Shelved

The 2020 PGA Championship will be postponed. It was scheduled to take place from May 14 - 17 at Harding Park Golf Club in San Francisco. It is the second major of the year that has been affected by the reaction to the coronavirus. The Masters was previously postponed from its scheduled run of April 9-12.

The PGA Tour halted play after the 1st round of The Players Championship last week.

Euro 2020 Soccer Moved To 2021

Euro 2020 has been postponed and now will take place in 2021.

The 24-team European Championship, which was being held across Europe to mark UEFA's 60th anniversary, will now take place from June 11 to July 11 in 2021. The move allows European domestic leagues to complete their schedules once play resumes.

March 16: 2020 Kentucky Derby Postponed To September

The 146th running of The Kentucky Derby will be moved until the first Saturday in September, the latest sporting event big and small to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The move of the race from May 2 until Sept. 5 was announced Tuesday morning by Churchill Downs officials. Multiple outlets reported the Sept. 5 date Monday night.

The last time the Run for the Roses was not held on the first Saturday in May was 1945. It was then shifted to June.

The Derby is a consistent $400 million economic boon for Louisville with two weeks of events and celebration in the city, including Thunder Over Louisville.

Wrestlemania Bans Fans, Moves To Orlando

The WWE has banned fans from Wrestlemania in according to guidance set by the CDC and moved the show from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.

The 36th edition of Wrestlemania will still stream live on April 5 starting at 7 p.m.

"Only essential personnel" will be allowed on the closed set.

NASCAR On Hold Until May

After canceling its remaining races in March, NASCAR said it will not be racing again until May 3 at Martinsville at the earliest.

No MLB For At Least 8 Weeks

MLB has pushed back the start of its 2020 season for at least 8 weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Baseball shuttered spring training last week and pushed back the start of its season. The season was originally scheduled to begin on March 26.

Casinos Closed, Stocks Crushed

Casinos across the nation closed as large gatherings were either banned or discouraged due to the coronavirus pandemic. The nation moved into its first full-week without any major pro or college sports on the schedule.

Gaming stocks were not spared amid the Monday carnage on Wall Street. MGM closed at $10.24 per share, down 33.65% on the day and 66.35% off its 52-week high of $34.64. Penn National tumbled 44.8%, down $6.93 per share to close at a 52-week low of $8.54. Penn announced it would be closing casinos in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Maine Monday, to add to the closings it announced during the weekend.

Caesars shed 28.39% to close at $6.08 per share. Just 25 days ago, Penn closed at $38.17 and Caesars settled at $14.63.

Prescott, Henry Among Players Tagged

The Cowboys slapped their 2020 franchise tag on QB Dak Prescott Monday.
The Cowboys slapped their 2020 franchise tag on QB Dak Prescott Monday.

A new contract between the NFL and its players was ratified by the players' union on Saturday. It ensures labor peace through the 2020 season.

Monday, several big-name players were tagged by their NFL teams as the official pre-free-agency legal tampering period began. Among those franchised: QB Dak Prescott of the Cowboys, running back Derrick Henry of the Titans. LG Joe Thuney of the Patriots and wide receiver A.J. Green of the Bengals.

The Dolphins are giving Shaq Lawson a 3-year deal worth $30 million. Tight end Austin Hooper has agreed to terms on a 4-year deal with the Cleveland Browns. Hooper will make $23 million, all guaranteed, over the first 2 seasons, according to Ian Rapoport.

Meanwhile, the Texas traded WR DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to Arizona for RB David Johnson, a second-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick next year.

Legislation On Hold

Maryland’s General Assembly announced it will end its legislative session on Wednesday because of coronavirus concerns. The General Assembly said it would prioritize legislation over the next two days, but declined to say Sunday which legislation would be considered. Legislation to ask voters to approve sports betting during the November election cleared the Senate on March 10, but has yet to have a House hearing.

The legislative session was supposed to end April 6, and this is believed to be the first time a session has been shortened since the Civil War. General Assembly leadership said Sunday it would hold a special session the last week of May.

Senate Bill 4 was approved 47-0. It was scheduled to have a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. The House needs to approve a bill and it will then be forwarded to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature. It then needs to be approved by voters in November.

In addition to Maryland, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Kansas are still considering sports betting legislation. Those to postpone or limit their sessions, hearings or committee meetings include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont.

March 15: More Casinos Close

Michigan and Maryland have joined a growing number of states shutting down casinos and racetracks as coronavirus continues to spread throughout the country. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the shutdown of all the state's casinos, racetracks and off-track betting parlors Sunday as the number of confirmed cases in Maryland reached 31.

”These are unprecedented actions in an extraordinary situation, but they could be the difference in saving lives and keeping people safe,” Hogan said in a statement.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also announced the Michigan Gaming Control Board will temporarily shut down casinos after the state announced 12 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 45.

Nevada has not yet announced any similar measures, but several states like Illinois, Ohio and California are closing all bars and restaurants Monday in an effort to slow the spread.

March 14: Casinos Shuttered

Concerns over the coronavirus and a push for social distancing continue to cripple the world of sports and gambling. This is the first weekend since 9-11 without any major pro or college sports being played in the United States.
Concerns over the coronavirus and a push for social distancing continue to cripple the world of sports and gambling. This is the first weekend since 9-11 without any major pro or college sports being played in the United States.

Casinos and sportsbooks were set to be shuttered across several states as government officials banned large gatherings and the effects of the coronavirus spread.

Rivers Casino Philadelphia and its related on-site sportsbook will be closing at midnight Sunday for 14 days "out of an abundance of caution and to promote the social distancing recommended by health officials." There have yet to be any reported cases of COVID-19 on the property. Employees will receive their normal pay during the 14-day suspension, the company said.

Penn National will close its gaming properties in Ohio and Illinois for 14 days starting on Monday.

In Ohio, Hollywood Casino Columbus, Hollywood Casino Toledo, Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway and Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course collectively employ more than 2,000 people.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has banned nearly all gatherings of more than 200 people.

"Penn National is left with no choice but to temporarily close those facilities," the company said in a release.

Under an order from the Illinois Gaming Commission, the Hollywood Casino Aurora, Hollywood Casino Joliet and Hollywood Casino Alton will also be closed for 14 days. Those sites combined have more than 1,200 employees.

The company said its employees will receive their normal pay and benefits through the month of March.

“The health and well-being of our guests and team members will always be our paramount concern,” Jay Snowden, president and CEO of Penn National Gaming, said in a release. “Since the coronavirus threat began there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any Penn National casino, and we have implemented stringent CDC-recommended protocols throughout our enterprise, including increased daily cleaning regimens at our facilities, maximizing air circulation, cancelling or postponing all concerts and live events, and we’re in the process of temporarily closing down buffets, among other initiatives."

After closing at a 52-week high of $38.17 a share on Feb. 20, Penn National Gaming stock has lost more 60% of its value. It was worth $15.47 per share at Friday's close.

March 13: No Action This Weekend

For the first time since 9-11, there will be a weekend without major professionals or collegiate sports being played in the United States,

NASCAR and IndyCar Friday became the latest professional entities of note in the United State to postpone scheduled competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NASCAR had planned to run its Cup Series race in Atlanta this weekend and at Miami-Homestead in Florida next week without spectators.

IndyCar spiked its first four races of the season and will not run until at least May. The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was set for this weekend.

Masters Postponed

Tiger Woods will not be defending his Masters title at Augusta any time soon.
Tiger Woods will not be defending his Masters title at Augusta any time soon.

The 2020 Masters has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was scheduled to take place April 9-12. The American National Women's Amateur tournament and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals have also been shelved. No future date for the tournament or related events was mentioned.

"Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision. We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date," Augusta National said in a statement.

The Masters has been held without a break each April since the end of World War II. Tiger Woods is the defending champion. He has been sidelined recently because of on-going back issues.

The Masters is clearly the highlight of the golf season for bettors. Futures odds for the event were first posted immediately following Woods' victory last spring.

According to the most-recent Masters odds posted by the the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, Rory McIlroy is the favorite to win at +800. He's followed by Jon Rahm (+1200), Justin Thomas (+1400) and Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka (both +1600). Woods is slotted at +2000 to win his sixth green jacket.

EPL Suspended Into April

Top soccer leagues overseas are postponing their seasons. The Premier League announced it has suspended its season until at least April 3. The Champions League and Europa League also suspended play..

The Chelsea and Arsenal clubs were placed in self-isolation after team personnel on each club tested positive for coronavirus.

NCAA Likely To Grant Spring Athletes Another Year

Spring student athletes will get relief on one season of eligibility after the NCAA canceled winter and spring championships due to the coronavirus pandemic, Stadium's Jeff Goodman reports.

"The NCAA's Council Coordination Committee has agreed to grant relief for the use of a season of competition for student-athletes who have participated in spring sports," Goodman reported.

"[The] Committee will also discuss issues for winter sport student-athletes."

Formula One Stalls

Boston Marathon Rescheduled

The Boston Marathon will be pushed back to Monday, Sept. 14 due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, race officials said. It's the first time in the race's 124-year history that it has been postponed. The 26.2-mile run from Hopkinton, Massachusetts to Boston was set for April 20. That is also Patriots Day in Massachusetts and Maine. A modified version of the race was run during World War I.

Legislative Updates

While some state legislatures — Maryland, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Kansas — are still considering sports betting legislation, some states have changed their legislative sessions because of the coronavirus. Those postponing or limiting their sessions, hearings or committee meetings include Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey and Texas.

March 12: No March Madness

The NCAA canceled its men's and women's basketball tournaments on Thursday. The men's tournament generated more than $10 billion in betting revenue in 2019, but only 3% of that came from legal sources.

In New Jersey, more than $106 million was legally wagered on March Madness last year.

The move to call off the signature event of the college basketball year was made a day after the NCAA announced it would play the games without spectators in attendance. Selection Sunday was scheduled for this weekend. The NCAA Final Four was to be played in Atlanta from April 4-6.

Kentucky Derby May Be Pushed Back

The 2020 Kentucky Derby may be postponed until later in the year due to coronavirus concerns, the the Louisville Courier Journal reports.

The first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown is scheduled for May 2. Churchill Downs officials said Thursday they will not make a final decision on whether or not to hold the race on its scheduled date until a later time,

NHL Ices Play

The NHL put the remainder of its season on ice Thursday.
The NHL put the remainder of its season on ice Thursday.

The NHL suspended its season on Thursday. The New York Post first reported the news after teams had canceled morning skates.

There are 189 games to be played in the NHL's regular season, 10 of which were scheduled Thursday night.

"The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures," the league said in a statement. "However, following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus -- and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point -- it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time."

PGA Tour Stops Through Valero Texas Open

The PGA Tour abruptly canceled the final three rounds of the The Players Tournament and all of its other competitive events through the Valero Texas Open, which was scheduled from April 2-5. The Masters remains the next event on the PGA Tour calendar. It is scheduled to begin on April 9 at Augusta National.

XFL Punts On Season

Thursday night, the XFL announced it would be suspending operations until further notice.

Spring Training Scrubbed

Major League Baseball suspended all remaining spring-training games and will delay the start of the regular season - originally set for March 26 - by at least two weeks.

NASCAR Races Without Crowds

MLS Suspends Play

MLS is suspending its season immediately until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak, Sports Illustrated reports.

Basketball Tournaments Scrapped

The AAC, ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten basketball tournaments have all been canceled. And Notre Dame was the latest big-name college to suspend football activities. Several schools, including Duke, have said none of their teams will participate in any athletic activities until further notice.

European Soccer Stops

Most club soccer leagues in Europe have postponed play, including the Champions League and Spain's La Liga. England's Premier League announced that it will play games as scheduled this weekend.

NFL Cuts Back

Players are being told to skip visits, coaches are being pulled off the road and team events are being scrapped.

March 11: NBA Suspends Play

The NBA suspended its season Wednesday night "until further notice" following the cancelation of the scheduled game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder

The Jazz-Thunder game was called after several players complained of illness. The NBA announced that one player for the Jazz has tested positive for COVID-19. Multiple reports said the player was Rudy Gobert.

News of the suspension broke during the national ESPN telecast of the Mavericks-Jazz game, which continued in Dallas in front of a sellout crowd. The final game of the night - the New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings - was called just minutes after its schedule tipoff.

Among the millions stunned by the news - Mavericks over Mark Cuban.

The stoppage in play was immediately reflected across online betting sites. Multiple sportsbooks - including DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet and William Hill, took down their NBA futures markets.

No Fans At NCAA Basketball Tournament

March Madness took on a more somber tone with the NCAA on Wednesday announcing that there will be no spectators allowed at the 2020 Men's and Women's NCAA Basketball Tournaments. The ruling also applies to all upcoming NCAA championship events.

The games will be played "with only essential staff and limited family attendance," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement.

"While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes," Emmert said.

But, at least for now, some conference tournament games will go on with fans.

Columbus Blue Jackets Ice Crowds

The NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets will play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday without paying spectators on hand. After a ban on large gatherings by Gov. Mike DeWine was announced, the team said it will follow suit and only allow "restricted attendance" for family members, essential team personnel and staff and media members.

The team will continue this policy for all home games as long as the ban on large gatherings remains in place.

Ivy League Cancels Season

The Ivy League, which canceled its post-season basketball tournament Tuesday, suspended all athletic practices and competition until the end of the academic year.

No XFL Crowd in Seattle

The XFL game scheduled for Sunday between the Seattle Dragons and Los Angeles Wildcats at CenturyLink Field in Seattle will be played without fans in attendance. The game will be televised on ESPN2