The long-awaited Tokyo Olympic Games start on Friday after being postponed last year due to COVID-19. Over the past few years, legalized sports betting has become a massively profitable industry in the United States. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court made a landmark decision to overturn the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which previously banned sports betting.
The American Gaming Association released data estimating that 20.1 million people will wager on the Olympics. Over 100 million Americans live in the 22 markets that have launched their legal sports betting offerings, and those states will offer various types of methods for placing wagers on the Olympics. The number of bettors on the Olympics should only grow in the coming years as 10% of those who said they were not planning on betting said they would be more likely to be legal in their state.
The American Gaming Association interviewed 2,200 Americans in its first-ever Olympics betting survey between July 9-12, 2021. Of the surveyed population, 54% of American adults showed strong interest in the Tokyo Olympics. Of those American adults with strong interest, 25% plan to place a wager on the Olympic games. Using those numbers, concerning the fact that some states have limited or no betting markets, the AGA expects around 20 million people to bet on the Olympics.
Sport-by-Sport Betting Breakdown
The AGA’s survey was a specific breakdown of the sports that individuals plan to wager on in the Olympics. The following is a breakdown of the percentage of surveyed individuals who plan to wager by sport:
- Basketball: 45%
- Soccer: 34%
- Gymnastics: 28%
- Track and field: 27%
- Swimming: 27%
Olympics Betting Methods
The online sports betting market is still growing following the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision in 2018, and only 22 states have fully launched their online sports betting offerings. Still, there are several methods that interested individuals plan to use to gamble on the Olympics.
- With friends: 47%
- Online: 43%
- At a retail sportsbook: 16%
- With a bookie: 13%
Olympic Sports Offered
Each sportsbook varies in what Olympic sports they offer among the 41 different disciplines to be represented in the Olympic games. Some sports include amateur athletes under the age of 18, which is a complicated proposition for regulators in the United States. Additionally, several events are scored subjectively by judges and are more difficult to process bets on than basketball or soccer.
Olympic Betting Tips
Betting on the Olympic Games can be a great way to increase your interest in the events and have more fun while watching. However, there are some basic principles to keep in mind while betting to maximize your enjoyment:
- Make sure you understand the sport: This one seems obvious, but don’t get stuck in a position where you randomly put a bet on a sport you don’t get that you will later regret. It would be best if you only bet on events you know you will watch and make sure you understand the specific nuances of each event – there are lots of sports in the Olympics which you will not be super familiar with.
- Try not to follow your home country blindly: This is a tough one, as no sports event encapsulates feelings of patriotism and national loyalty like the Olympics. However, it’s important to bet based on the result you actually think will occur, not just based on where your loyalties lie.
- Manage your bankroll: This applies to all sports betting, not just the Olympics, but it’s important not to use your entire bankroll on one event. As the Olympics kick off, it will be tempting to throw many bets out there to get in on the action. However, remember that it’s a long event, and there will be lots of opportunities for value plays as we get further into these contests.