The Super Bowl 52 is one of the biggest sports events for betting - Photo by Quintin3265
It’s difficult to gauge the total global value of the sports betting market, but it’s estimated to be in the region of $700 billion - $1 trillion. That’s an insane amount of money. Imagine it was all there in paper form floating around. Crazy…
At the centre of this storm of cash are certain sports that attract millions of viewers, many of whom have a little punt. The most popular sports for betting on include soccer, football, basketball and more. Within these, certain events are the most prolific. Let’s take a look.
The Super Bowl takes the top spot in the list for the fact that it is a single game, not a tournament or series of competitions, yet it attracts well over $100 million in legal bets every year. The NFL is extremely popular, and the Super Bowl is the granddaddy of them all.
For the 2018 Super Bowl, as the Eagles beat the Patriots, $158.6 million in bets were taken at Nevada bookmakers. That’s an incredible amount of money for a single state on a single game. This amount could increase exponentially as recent changes allow more states to offer sports betting on apps such as FoxBet, an upcoming collaboration between Fox and BetStars.
Other sports may scoop more over the course of several major games, but year in year out it is the Super Bowl that takes first place, and it is set to become stronger in coming years.
FIFA World Cup
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and accounts for around an immense 70% of the trillion dollar market. The Premier League provides the biggest domestic market for betting on regular matches, but it is the FIFA World Cup that really brings out the international hype and love of the game.
The FIFA World Cup is held every four years, and during that time the betting world goes mad for it. There’s 210 countries involved in the qualifiers, and then a Final 32 battling through the Group and knockout stages. This provides plenty of betting opportunities throughout the competition, on individual games, the outcome of stages and overall winners.
It’s estimated that the World Cup takes around $260 million throughout the competition, much of it in the later stages.
The FIFA World Cup is the biggest event of the most popular sport - Photo by Ben Sutherland
Grand National and Kentucky Derby
Horse racing is another extremely popular sport for betting. In the USA, the biggest race going, and longest running sports event in the country, is the Kentucky Derby. The Churchill Downs racetrack, one of the US’s top sporting venues, reported over $209 million in bets over 14 races in 2017, a record for the event.
The Grand National is the most popular horse race for the UK, and indeed worldwide. The course is known as one of the world’s most difficult races, with 30 jumps over 4 miles and 2 ½ furlongs. The race attracts 600 million viewers across the globe, with over £300 million ($400 million) wagered in 2017.
The NCAA single elimination tournament known as ‘March Madness’ takes the final place on this list. The 64 teams all compete in an intense knockout style event that is exciting for viewers and punters alike.
Around $300 million was wagered across the course of the tournament in 2018, which is still impressive given that sports betting is currently not available nationwide. Estimates from the American Gaming Association predict that much more was wagered ‘under the table’, as much as $10 billion.
The above analysis of the biggest events for sports betting is based on general information available. A recent snapshot of 2018 is pretty much in line with the general status quo.
We have already mentioned that the Super Bowl 52 took a record breaking $159 million. The March Madness Final Four takes second spot in 2018, without even needing the bets from the rest of the tournament. Other significant betting moments included the World Cup Final between Croatia and France, though Croatia were significant underdogs, as well as NFL Thanksgiving, the Kentucky Derby and Grand National.