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In a world without sports, bettors turn to the weather

How the coronavirus pandemic is shedding light on a different type of fantasy ‘sport.’

News 12 Staff

Mar 16, 2020, 8:05 PM

Updated 1,587 days ago

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In a world currently devoid of sports and in which casinos temporarily closed their doors, bettors are turning to something else to wager on.
The weather?! That's right. Us forecasters are an easy target for many - you know who you are - but now it's time to put your money where you mouth is and prove you can do the job yourself.
Trying to wager on Mother Nature is nothing new, but it is garnering more attention now because of the coronavirus pandemic.
During my undergrad days, I participated in a collegiate weather forecasting competition called WxChallenge, along with my meteorology classmates. We would be assigned a different city throughout the competition and receive points based on our forecasts, with awards given out to the winners. Similar websites to this have recently popped up as well, including The 2020 Weather Dance.
However, in the age of e-sports and legalized gambling, it was only a matter of time before someone replaced moral victories with monetary prizes.
Weather Battle LLC is a company based in Tulsa, OK that hosts both paid and free weather challenges for its constituents. They have been around since late 2018, and have seen a significant uptick in interest recently, for obvious reasons.
The instructions on the website are very inviting and make it seem easy.
  1. Pick your battle
  2. Draft your cities
  3. Win and repeat!
The rules are indeed pretty simple: make forecasting predictions of different weather parameters (they have four: Heat, Cold, Rain, and Wind) and then draft cities that you think will perform the best. You are given a starting budget and each city will be designated a 'price'. When choosing your cities, you must stay under budget, a premise similar to daily fantasy sports contests.
Results use official data from NOAA, so no arguments there. Score the highest, and you can win cold – or warm – hard cash. Some of the top players have made over $2,000 playing, with more than $70,000 in total awarded last year!
They even have an iPhone app (with Android soon to follow) to bring the fantasy forecast fight right to your fingertips.
Bovada.com is another website hopping on the weather-betting train. There you can take the over or under on forecast temperatures for a given city, similar to how you can do so for the score of a sporting event. Betting lines are provided, which can help you make your decision on playing it safe or taking a risk.
Perhaps I could use my skills to make a quick buck….but not so fast. These websites act in accordance with all state gambling legislation, and I know that New York does not follow the same laws as New Jersey and Connecticut. 
As it turns out, I would be good to go for Weather Battle. I spoke to VP of Sales Jon Haverfield and he said that playing in New York is perfectly legal. "We are different than the sports betting legality in New Jersey and some other states. We are classified as a game of skill, not a game of chance. We’re under the same realm as the other daily fantasy sports apps."
The only states currently unable to participate are Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Tennessee, and Washington. The app uses geolocation to determine where you are.
So look out, world of weather betting. There's a new meteorologist in town!


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