It is estimated that Americans wager over $150 billion dollars per year on sporting events, and even more is bet on legally around the world. But as more and more states are legalizing sports betting we could see that number rise even further, especially because betting has become even easier with the addition of online/mobile options. That $150 billion dollars mentioned above is for all sports but some events stand high above the rest. Check out our list below of the most bet on sporting events around the world.
Soccer isn’t a major sport in the United States but when the World Cup comes around it captivates the world and everyone tunes in. In 2018 it was reported that over the course of the event 3.572 billion people viewed the 64 matches. According to FIFA, these viewers were also throwing down big money, with an estimated $136 billion dollars wagered in the entire tournament and $7.2 billion on the final match. The Men’s World Cup will come around again in 2022, which will be the first time a majority of Americans will be able to bet on the event legally.
Not surprisingly, America’s favorite sport and its biggest game is one of the most bet on events annually. Over 100 million people watch the Super Bowl each year and that number continues to grow. According to the American Gaming Association, almost $7 billion dollars was bet on the Super Bowl in the 2020 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. A lot of the intrigue with the Super Bowl is the unique bets on the halftime show, national anthem, coin toss, and others that bring in more casual sports bettors.
Horse racing usually wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of big sporting events, but a lot of people underestimate the size of the Kentucky Derby. People from around the world converge on Kentucky and put their hard-earned money on the line to pick a winner. It was reported in 2019 that over $250 million dollars were wagered on the event and given the circumstances of the ending a lot of people were on the edge of their seats.
Another large scale tournament that is hosted every year is March Madness in college basketball. The tournament lasts about and month and has 67 total games. The American Gaming Association has estimated that 47 million American adults with wager over $8.5 billion dollars total on the men’s tournament. They also estimate that only 7% of those people will wager their money legally at a sportsbook or with a friend. March Madness doesn’t have a single game that will top the Super Bowl but collectively the tournament will have a handle over 2x the amount of the Super Bowl. So, as expected casinos lost a lot of revenue with the tournament being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boxing has lost its luster in recent years but big-time fights featuring the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor, Manny Pacquiao, and others bring a ton of eyes to the sport. In Nevada, they saw over $100 million dollars’ worth of wagers, which is the single biggest handle for an event in the state. Multiple sportsbooks across the state saw single wagers of over $1 million dollars for one of the two fighters. If boxing sees Floyd Mayweather return to the ring we will likely see something of the same.
The Grand National
Another horse racing event that makes our list is The Grand National in Great Britain. The event is attended by royalty in the UK and is known as one of the hardest horse races in the world. A lot of people in America pay more attention to the Kentucky Derby, but the betting numbers & viewership numbers show a different story for the rest of the world. It is reported that it draws 500-600 million viewers in over 120 countries. In the 2017 Grand National event, the reported wagered amount was near $400 million US dollars. It may not be the most popular in the US but this is a top tier event for the betting public.
Baseball may be losing in the popularity battle to other major US sports like the NFL and NBA but the World Series is still one of the most-watched events in the country. There have been increased eyes on the most recent world series because of Houston business owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale who bet $11 million dollars on the Astros in multiple states in order to protect himself vs his furniture store promotion. The longer the series goes the more revenue there is for sportsbooks.
Rugby World Cup
Rugby is another sport that isn’t very popular in the US but around the world, it provides some of the most-watched games/matches. In 2019 it was reported that the Rugby World Cup in Japan had over 850 million worldwide viewers, which was the highest in the history of the tournament. We don’t have specific betting numbers but given the number of people that watch we can assume a lot of money is being thrown down throughout the course of the tourney.
Basketball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world so it’s no surprise to see that their championship series is one of the most bet on events. It’s hard to estimate the exact amount due to most of the bets being made at illegal offshore books, but in Nevada alone it is estimated that bettors risk almost $10 million dollars per game. With over 20 million people watching each game of the series we can assume a lot of money is bet with the illegal offshore books.
Cricket World Cup
The Cricket World Cup is one of the most-viewed events in the world. Last year the Cricket governing body reported an audience of 1.6 billion people. Cricket is one of the most popular sports in India and other nations on that side of the world. On a legal betting platform in England, they reported 71 million pounds was bet on the Indiana Premier League final alone. They expected that any match between India, England, and Australia could bring in 50 million pounds of bets, and that’s only on this one betting platform in England. We will never know the exact number but we know it’s a very healthy amount.