The internet has been abuzz this week over an incredible roll at the World Indoor Bowls Championships in the UK. Even if you are unfamiliar with the sport (which is similar to bocce ball), you can appreciate the seemingly astronomical odds of what many people are calling the perfect shot and the best ever seen.
The shot came from Englishman Nick Brett during the open pairs final of the annual event. Social media is full of comments from people saying they are now intrigued by the game.
Take a look at the insane feat for yourself:
The balls used are unevenly weighted and helps them have curved trajectories, which makes it dissimilar to bocce ball. Nonetheless, the shot is undeniably mind-boggling, especially when considering the indoor field is roughly 130 feet in length. The jack, which is the smaller ball that the competitors try to position their balls close to in order to score points, is often not that far away, however.
Amazingly, Brett acted like he had been there before and didn’t even celebrate the miracle shot.
Lawn bowling: a sport that uses unevenly-weighted balls that curl based on how they are thrown. Bocce: a sport that uses evenly-weighted balls that go straight.
I've seen five outlets already mix up the two, so tip to anyone blogging it today.
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 23, 2020
It appears to be a watershed moment for the sport (also called lawn bowls or bowling), as British tabloids are calling it arguably the greatest shot in the history of the organized sport, or at least the best ever captured on camera. ESPN featured it this week in at least one of its top programs.
Didn't think I'd ever live to see indoor bowls go viral https://t.co/xgoybzB16W
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeFT) January 23, 2020
The shot helped propel Brett and his teammate to the title.
Congratulations to Greg Harlow and Nick Brett for winning the Open Pairs title at the Just World Indoor Bowls Championships 2020 at @PottersResort! Our very own @slowe1968 was there to present the trophies. What an incredible match to watch and a very deserving win 🏆 #JustBowls pic.twitter.com/hRMIh2DhcY
— Just (@WeAreJustUK) January 21, 2020
Betting on the sport
There were no legal betting markets on the 2020 World Indoor Bowls Championships in the nascent U.S. sports betting market. Sportsbooks in the UK were of course taking action.
Could this situation change with the sport having a new audience of fans thanks to the viral clip?
It’s possible, as U.S. sportsbooks in Indiana, for example, already are approved to take bets on traditional bowling and even darts. Are darts, which are more popular in the UK as well, that much different than indoor bowling? Probably not, and perhaps Brett’s magical shot could help lead to a niche betting market.
U.S. sports betting is dominated by football, basketball, and baseball, but some less popular sports should have room to grow their respective fan bases thanks to sports betting. The idea is that the opportunity to have some skin in the game in the form of money will lead to more viewership and deeper engagement.
The big three sports often don’t provide much in the way of bettors feeling like they have an edge against the house. The niche sports could be enticing from the vantage point of being able to do your own research and make a wager that you think might have more value than any bet you can find on a football game. The big three sports are saturated with analysis by betting experts. Niche sports give you more room to form your own opinions and analysis and can make for a more enjoyable spectator experience.
Of course, one viral social media clip is fleeting, and it will take so much more for the World Indoor Bowls Championship to become anything greater than a blip on the radar for U.S. sportsbooks, but it could be enough to eventually add it to the niche sports menu. U.S. sportsbooks should at the very least consider it.
State regulators would almost certainly approve it if they asked for it.