Sports betting has become an increasingly important part of the sports experience over the past decade. In part that is due to regulatory changes bringing sports betting to the masses in the USA. But that is only part of the story. All over the world, the smartphone revolution has effectively placed a sports book in every pocket.
In the past, sports fans and sports gamblers were entirely different creatures. The latter devoted hours to studying form, cross-referencing odds and painstakingly working out the best strategy to beat the bookies. Today, people are more likely to bet with the heart, putting a stake on their favourite team as an act of support, and knowing that win or lose, team and supporter will celebrate or commiserate together.
It’s an entirely new kind of dynamic in sports betting, although having said that, it has been noticed more in some sports than others. Which sports are they, you might wonder. The answer is now available courtesy of research carried out by industry experts at Sportradar.
No prizes for guessing this one. According to the researchers, about 70 percent of all sports betting worldwide is on soccer. When you consider the global followings that clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid attract, it is really no surprise. It also goes some way to explaining why most sports betting innovations start with soccer and then roll out to other sports. For example, this odds calculator was designed with soccer betting in mind but can be equally applied to other sports. Likewise, live betting is mostly concentrated on soccer and is only gradually starting to become available in other sports.
From a global sport to one that is almost entirely confined to one country. The reason American football is able to clinch the number two spot comes down to three hours every February. The Super Bowl is an annual event for which the world stands still. The world also reaches for its collective betting app – no one event attracts anything close in terms of wagers, with around $7.6 billion bet on this year’s Super Bowl in the USA alone.
Another sport that has its main fanbase in the USA, basketball makes the list mostly thanks to the March Madness tournament in which 68 teams duke it out for supremacy over one frantic month. Like the NFL, basketball has slowly but surely acquired a growing international audience since the turn of the millennium.
The most popular single player sport on the planet, tennis is fourth in terms of total wagers. Partly that’s down to the number of tournaments played each year, although it is worth noting that Wimbledon alone attracts more than a billion TV viewers over the two weeks it is run.
Sports fans in the Americas and most of Europe will raise an eyebrow at our fifth entry. However, cricket is not just a genteel and somewhat archaic English sport. In the Indian subcontinent, it is practically a religion. Tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL) attract astronomical sums in wagers – around $100 million was bet on the 2019 IPL final on one betting platform alone.