July 21, 2021 3 min read


Olympics Betting to Be Popular, Just Not with Sportsbooks

The 2020 Summer Olympics have finally arrived. The first event, a softball game between Japan and Australia, was held today, officially marking the start of the competitions that were delayed a year because of COVID-19. These are the first Olympic Games to be held since states across the US began legalizing sports betting and, although sportsbooks will be in on the action, they can’t be overly enthusiastic. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), almost 50% of the wagers that are expected will only be casual bets between families and friends.

20 Million Americans to Place Olympics Bets

The AGA asked Morning Consult to conduct a poll to figure out how high – or low – interest in Olympics betting was going to be this year. The consulting firm responded, contacting individuals across the US from July 9 – 12. Although the sample was extremely small, at just 2,200 adults, Morning Consult determined that 20.1 million people are planning on placing at least one wager during the games. That would represent around 8% of the entire US adult population and, although it reflects a significant amount of bets, it is still less than half of the number of people who bet on the NCAA’s March Madness this past March.

Comparatively speaking, the 8% who will place wagers represent just a small portion of those who are interested in the games. Morning Consult found that 54% of the US population is planning on following the action, demonstrating that many people are not yet attracted to the world of sports betting. Only 25% of those polled who indicated they are “very interested” in the Olympics plan on placing a bet.

Traditional sportsbooks won’t be too thrilled with the results of the survey. The poll found that 47% of the respondents only plan on placing bets with friends and families, which means the sports betting operators are going to miss out on a significant portion of the wagers. This could, however, prove beneficial to peer-to-peer sports betting solutions.

Basketball Commands Attention

The survey, which had a margin of error of +/- 2%, discovered that much of the betting action will target today’s more popular sports. Basketball will be the first choice among bettors, with 45% of the respondents indicating a hoops bet is coming. 34% plan on taking a chance on a soccer game or two and gymnastics will see some action, as well, with 28% of the bets. Track and field events and swimming are expected to make up 27% of the bets.

Online sportsbooks are going to see most of the action. 43% of the bets will be placed online, with only 16% hitting physical sportsbooks. Bookies are quickly becoming a dying breed, with just 13% of the wagers to be placed through them. In addition, 10% of those who indicated they won’t bet on the games said that they likely would, but only if sports betting was legal in their jurisdiction. With more states legalizing sports betting on almost a continuous basis, sportsbooks will now look to the next set of Olympic Games and formulate campaigns to attract more attention from the betting community.


Erik brings his unique writing talents and storytelling flare to cover a wide range of gambling topics. He has written for a number of industry-related publications over the years, providing insight into the constantly evolving world of gaming. A huge sports fan, he especially enjoys football and anything related to sports gambling. Erik is particularly interested in seeing how sports gambling and online gaming are transforming the larger gaming ecosystem.

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