Just days after New Jersey sports bettors, who were scanning the globe for competitions to wager on in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, lost out on their two favorite options, regulators approved an increasingly popular alternative on Thursday.
Table tennis — better known to some as “ping-pong” — is now available for wagering in the Garden State, though only pre-match bets are authorized per the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. That’s short of what neighboring Pennsylvania offers, or what Indiana — a relative late-comer to legal, regulated sports betting but one that has been aggressive of late — permits for its bettors.
Rush Street Interactive, which has the Play SugarHouse and BetRivers brands in Pennsylvania and the latter title in the Hoosier State, has gotten more handle on table tennis in the past week than any other sport.
The reason? “In-game” betting is permitted in those two states.
Some New Jersey gamblers may be sufficiently consoled by having any table tennis wagering at all, after two popular options a week ago — Australian Rules football and a rugby league in that same country — were knocked out when each league suspended its activity for obvious safety reasons.
The TT Cup in Ukraine and the Setka Cup in Russia are holding table tennis matches on a daily basis, starting in the early afternoon each day and running throughout the evening — convenient timing for American bettors.
Pace of play
Anyone who has seen Forrest Gump or watched a lot of Summer Olympics coverage has an inkling of how fast-paced this sport is.
A spokesperson for Rush Street said that the average time of scoring one point in table tennis is “between four and eight seconds, and the duration of the game is one to three minutes.”
If the technology is fast enough, these conditions can lead to a flurry of in-game bets.
Both the TT Cup and Setka Cup are being livestreamed on their respective websites — tt-cup.com and setka-cup.com — and those links are shared with players on the American websites offering wagering.
For those whose garage ping-pong days are well behind them and need a refresher, table tennis matches are best-of-five, with 11 points needed to win a game, and the margin of victory must be at least two points or the game continues until that result is reached.
“Ping-pong has the same characteristics as popular betting sports like tennis or baseball, but the game is faster,” said Rush Street Interactive COO Mattias Stetz. “It is a perfect game for live betting in that it starts and stops all the time, with very fast changes in momentum.”
They play more than soccer in Belarus
Last weekend, New Jerseyans had soccer from Belarus as their No. 3 game of choice, and this weekend Australian-based operator PointsBet is bringing them another offering from that neighbor of both Russia and Ukraine.
PointsBet is putting odds on the Belarus Extraleague hockey playoff series between defending champion Yunost Minsk at -304 and Shakhtar Soligorsk at +225.
The first game is today (Friday, March 27) at 1 p.m.
Finally, FanDuel is offering “free play” fantasy horse racing as well.
Photo by Matt Kryger / USA Today Sports