5 of the most bet-on sporting events


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5 of the most bet sporting events

Betting slips in a sports betting office

In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, banning sports betting throughout the United States except for Nevada. For 25 years, sports bettors had to either fly to Las Vegas or turn to illegal channels like offshore bookies.

Everything changed in 2018 when the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on gambling, paving the way for states to enact new gambling laws across the country. Slowly but surely, states began to legalize sports betting. Soon 30 US states and Washington DC had legalized sports betting in some way following the landmark court ruling.

Americans have clearly had a thirst to bet on sports as the regulated sports betting market in the US grew to total revenue of $4.33 billion in 2021, according to the American Gaming Association.

Given the popularity of sports betting in the US, the OLBG has compiled five of the world’s most wagered sporting events after researching data from across the web, including news reports and press releases.

For sports betting fans, this list will not come as a surprise, but the amount of money wagered on these events might come as a bit of a shock.



Ethan Miller // Getty Images

March madness

Man making bets during a party for March Madness

With a total of 67 games to bet on over a three-week period, March Madness, the NCAA’s annual men’s college basketball tournament, is one of the most heavily wagered sporting events in the world. And the numbers are overwhelming.

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Ahead of the 2022 tournament, betting estimates by the American Gaming Association predicted that more than 45 million American adults would wager more than $3.1 billion on the tournament.

It didn’t hurt that the 2022 men’s tournament finals featured two of the biggest college basketball schools in Kansas and North Carolina. After the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Tar Heels 72-69, the final game totals became clearer.

To put the numbers in perspective, Illinois casinos generated nearly $300 million in revenue during the tournament. Meanwhile, bets on basketball — both college and pro — raked in over $700 million in Nevada in March alone. This amazing total was 50% higher than the previous month.



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Kentucky derbies

Kentucky Derby fans gather at the betting windows

Arguably the most prestigious horse race in the world, the Kentucky Derby has been shaping gambling winners since 1875.

The competition, held at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, had another big day in 2022, as nearly 150,000 fans wearing fancy hats and mint juleps witnessed one of the biggest long-shot winners in racing history. The 148th edition of the Derby saw 80-1 underdog Rich Strike first, setting the stage for the most stakes in racing history.

According to all betting sources, the derby brought in a whopping $179 million, which was 15% more than last year. For anyone lucky enough to bet on Rich Strike, a $10 bet would have netted $818.



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The Great National

A woman places a bet during the Grand National

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The second largest horse race, particularly in terms of gambling, is undoubtedly The Grand National, a national hunt race held annually in Liverpool, England since 1839. Unlike a track race like the Kentucky Derby, a national chase race includes fences and ditches to complete the course of the race.

During the 2021 event, people wagered a staggering £100m ($137.4m) while also setting online betting records as many betting shops were closed due to COVID-19. The event’s winning horse was notable for several reasons. First, Minella Times, a Thoroughbred bred in Ireland, was an 11-1 underdog. But more importantly, the horse ran and jumped under Rachael Blackmore, the first female jockey to triumph at the race in its entire history.



Ethan Miller // Getty Images

super bowl

Bettors line up to place bets

The Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League, is by far the largest sporting event in the United States in terms of attendance. The gambling numbers prove that there are no signs of slipping from its top spot.

In 2022, more than 110 million people tuned in to watch NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams defeat AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. First played in 1967, the Super Bowl is consistently the biggest betting event of the year for Americans. The 2022 game saw nearly $180 million in wagers across 179 individual sportsbooks in Nevada alone. But nationally, the AGA forecast an even more startling number, counting on an estimated $7.61 billion in wagers.



YASUYOSHI CHIBA // Getty Images

FIFA World Cup

People betting on the World Cup watch the game at a betting shop

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Next to the Olympic Games, there is no bigger international sports competition than the soccer World Cup. Every four years since 1930 (except during World War II), 32 qualified teams from around the world have competed for supremacy in football (or football as the rest of the world calls it).

At the 2018 World Cup, held in Russia, the average match had around €2bn in bets, while the league match between France and massive underdogs Croatia saw an estimated €72bn changing hands as the French won 4-2.

In terms of viewership, the 2018 World Cup Final was watched by more than 1.1 billion people at some point during the game. The FIFA World Cup 2022 will be held in Qatar and the current betting odds favorites are Brazil at +450 and Les Bleus who are champions again at +550.

This story originally appeared on OLBG and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.


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