You Won't Believe What Gamblers Are Betting on While Sports Are on Hold

Betting enthusiasts are turning to the open ocean to try their wagering luck.

If you're even a little familiar with games of chance, you've likely heard the expression "card shark." Until recently, that term was pretty much the only connection between gambling and our oceans' top predators—and even then, it's merely a metaphor for a good poker player. On June 17, however, it looked like actual sharks were poised a to play a much more significant role in the wagering world. That's because online sportsbook announced that its members would soon be able to place wagers on the summer migration patterns of nine great white sharks.

Using data provided by Ocearch, a nonprofit shark-tracking site, the gambling site posted odds on various aspects of each individual shark's journey. Bettors could then place wagers and follow the action on an interactive map, which monitors shark migration in near-real time. What exactly led to this bizarre new betting space exactly? Simply put, a lack of options for gamblers due to traditional sports still being on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic—and it sounded like a fun experiment.

"I have no illusions of grandeur that we are going to make millions of dollars off of this. It's a fun thing and hopefully it catches on," David Strauss, head oddsmaker at MyBookie, said to Forbes last week.

Great White Shark

Unfortunately it didn't qo quite so smoothly. Just hours after the shark-betting site went live, it was taken down at the request of Ocearch founder, Chris Fischer, The New York Times reported. Though the specifics are unclear, apparently there was miscommunication on what exactly the partnership between the nonprofit and the very much for-profit businesses would entail. Though the site was still down at the time of publication—and it's unclear whether the endeavor will resume—Fischer, as well as some scientists, agree that there is positive potential in the idea.

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In an email to The New York Times, shark scientist Melissa Cristina Márquez, founder of Fins United Initiative, even said that the unusual betting campaign could be a new way for the public to engage with sharks. And Jasmin Graham, a marine biologist at Mote Marine Laboratory, added that it could be a positive pursuit if MyBookie "offered donations to shark researchers," who work in a field that is often in need of funding.

Others, however, feared that allowing humans to gamble on sharks would only further solidify the public perception that these amazing animals are here merely for our own entertainment.

"There isn't necessarily only one right way to care" about sharks, Catherine Macdonald, a shark researcher at the University of Miami, said to the Times, adding, however, it could result in a "cheapening" of the animals' significance. And for more on how coronavirus has impacted ocean life, Florida Has This One "Silver Lining" Amid Soaring Coronavirus Cases.

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