Gamblers factoring virus into their football bets this fall

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Customers line up to place wagers in the sports betting lounge at the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City N.J. on Sept. 9, 2018. The coronavirus outbreak has added new wrinkles for bettors this year, but even so, the nation's sportsbooks expect a record year of bets on football in 2020 from an antsy public that has been cooped up for months amid the pandemic. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – There's a new factor in play for gamblers looking to bet on football this fall: In addition to point spreads, home-field advantage (or this year, the lack thereof) and the weather, bettors are taking the coronavirus into account before plunking down their cash.

In a year in which the pandemic has upended every major sport, the arrival of NFL and college football brings unique challenges.

In stadiums without fans, does a home-field advantage even exist? And if not, is it worth laying three points for?

Will the lack of a preseason benefit offenses or defenses — or could both be equally rusty in the early going? Does that make overs or unders the smart play?

Will the money that would have been wagered on college teams that won't be playing this fall simply be rolled onto other college or pro teams, or will that money not be wagered at all?

And is it worth making season-long bets predicting who will win the Super Bowl if a team's quarterback or star running back could suddenly disappear from the lineup for weeks at a time after contracting the virus?

One thing seems certain: Sportsbooks are expecting a record-breaking season in terms of the amount of money wagered by an antsy public that has endured months of lockdowns and restrictions and only recently got the opportunity to resume betting on major American sports.

Betting on basketball has been particularly robust, and bookmakers expect football to easily eclipse that level of interest.