First Ever Costa Rica Hurricane: Disruptions to Sportsbooks Possible Thanksgiving Day

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  • Otto reaches Category 2 strength before making landfall along unprepared Costa Rica north coast
  • Cyclone is one of the strongest to form this far south in the Caribbean and only the 12th to form this late in the year since 1851
  • Global warming? There is no record of any hurricane ever having struck Costa Rica directly
  • Online sportsbooks and Pay Per Head businesses located in the country far enough inland but disruptions possible for busy Thanksgiving Day NFL games

Millions of people will be betting on the upcoming Thanksgiving Day NFL games with most online sportsbooks based out of Costa Rica.  News of a rare Category 2 about to hit the Central American nation had sports bettors and bookies worldwide wary Tuesday afternoon.  

Otto had become a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday afternoon before being downgraded back to a tropical storm Wednesday morning then back up to a Category 2 as it was about to make landfall Thanksgiving Day.  It is one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record so far south in the Caribbean.   No hurricane has ever struck Costa Rica. Also of note, only eleven Caribbean cyclones have formed this late in the year since 1851.

Otto made landfall just over the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border in a sparsely populated area on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) with warnings posted all along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica already. 

Reports from San Jose-based sportsbooks far enough inland report no damage thus far, however, squalls were anticipated through the 6 pm EST hour. endorsed online sportsbooks, Pay Per Heads, as well as the online poker site Americas Cardroom are based far inland within the mountainous San Jose region and will not sustain hurricane force wind or surge damage,” advised Senior Editor Payton O’Brien.  “We are aware that there may be a few small outfits not recognized by Gambling911 operating from homes or offices along the coast but regular readers of this website should not be impacted should these businesses be destroyed.”

That is not to say there won’t be some minor disruptions.

Heavy rain was anticipated in the region as the storm makes landfall Thursday during a peak betting period with three NFL games on tap spread across the afternoon and evening.  Heavy downpours and strong gusty winds were to be anticipated leading to the potential for sporadic phone line and Internet outages.

“All wagers should be placed as soon as possible, sportsbook operators are advising,” O’Brien said.

- Gilbert Horowitz,

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