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Khabib Family Battles Covid, Table Tennis Rivals UFC in Betting

Written by:
Ean Lamb
Published on:
May/18/2020

Khabib Nurmagomedov confirmed reports of his father being in critical condition due to COVID-19 on Monday.

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Nurmagomedov, who was slated to take on Tony Ferguson in UFC 249 last month but got stuck in his native Russia, discussed the situation via his Instagram account. 

"In my personal case, I've had more than 20 people sick from my family," said Nurmagomedov, as translated by ESPN. "More than 20 people were lying in the ICUs. And many of them are no longer among us. Many acquaintances have died, many parents of my relatives. Everybody is having a hard time dealing with it. 

"There is a lot written on the Internet about my father. My father, right now, is located in a hospital. He is in critical condition as a result of this virus. It impacted his heart, because last year he had a surgery there and right now, they did another surgery. He is in a very difficult situation, very difficult. We are asking Allah that he returns him to us." 

Coronavirus has devastated Moscow and continues its march across Russia.  According to Johns Hopkins University, the country now ranks second in the world for confirmed coronavirus cases.  The Russian capital has been hardest hit. Of Russia's total of 281,752 confirmed cases, over half -- 142,824 -- are in Moscow.

UFC on ESPN+ enjoyed the largest betting handle this weekend, but Russian table tennis came in second at William Hill during a period that included NASCAR and German soccer.

“UFC was No. 1, Russian ping pong was No. 2 and the rest were far, far, far below,” said William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich, who estimated there was five times as much money bet on table tennis Sunday than on NASCAR, soccer and golf combined. 

“It’s just so much bigger than anything else going on on a daily basis,” he said. “Every bookmaker I talk to says the same thing. For whatever reason, it draws a ton of action.” 

Bogdanovich said his company took in close to $1 million in bets on Saturday’s UFC event while taking in around $1 million in daily wagers on Russian table tennis. 

“There’s 100 matches a day and steady action all day long. By the end of the day, it adds up,” he said. “We didn’t know we’d write that kind of business until we started it. 

“We put up everything — darts, judo, Burundi soccer, esports. They all have the same ability to draw action and haven’t. For whatever reason, they gravitate toward that sport.” 

Dave Mason of BetOnline advised that his company took in a signficant amount of betting handle on NASCAR's Darlington 400, enough to make it the most wagered on NASCAR event in BetOnline's 21-year history.

- Ean Lamb, Gambling911.com

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