July 15, 2021 3 min read


The Summer Olympics Are a Go and So Are the Wagers

After being delayed a year because of COVID-19, and amid calls that they be canceled completely, the Summer Olympics are about to begin. Friday, July 23, marks the official start date of the 2020 Summer Olympics, with over 306 events in the lineup. Those events are expected to result in something never before seen, as they could produce the largest legal sports betting handle ever.

Betting on Olympics Success

It would be impossible to know how much betting was done on the Olympics through illegal and offshore books, but this summer’s games are the first to be held since the US Supreme Court told lawmakers in Congress that they were completely wrong for having approved the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). With the legislation’s demise in 2018, sports betting has become fashionable in the US, no longer limited to just Nevada, and more books are ready to put up some lines.

How many lines will be added isn’t clear. Sports Handle apparently got ahold of a few insiders for their take and Sam Panayotovich of Fox Sports thinks there will be a great deal of interest, especially because it’s a new betting segment with untapped possibilities. He thinks prop bets will be one of the biggest segments, explaining, “We see a lot of books offer medal counts and how many medals a country will get. The books have seen that the more candy in the candy store, the more willing the customer. The more I have to bet on, the more I’m going to bet as a consumer.”

Cautioned Urged on Olympic Bets

Analysts like Panayotovich and others, without explicitly saying so, believe that the sportsbooks could be the real winners. They predict that many bets during the Olympic Games will be “uneducated bets,” with bettors not understanding the particular sport or the athlete. Uneducated bets often end in disaster for the gamblers, but not for the books. It’s because of this that Panayotovich offers sage advice, stating, “My advice to a bettor is to please do your homework, because you can slide down a really slippery slope with these bets.”

There’s also the issue of the time difference. Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of New York, which is going to have an impact on how and when bets are placed. Fortunately, those states that have been smart enough to legalize online sportsbooks will be able to benefit, with bettors placing their wagers while sitting at the dinner table or watching late-night TV. Monmouth Park Casino VP of Operations Bill Knauf predicts, “I think this is one of those events where, if you want some action or entertainment, you’re probably gonna place the bet well before it goes on. I don’t think it’s the type of wagering you wait until the last minute to place.”

Betting on Betting Targets

Someone needs to come up with a prop bet on which events will see the most bets during the Olympics. Until then, it can only be predicted based on the sport’s popularity with fans. Knauf expects swimming and track and field will be big draws for bettors and table tennis is also likely to be a huge target. After all, it was table tennis that kept many sportsbooks alive during the COVID-19 sports lockdown.

Basketball is also going to be a go-to sport for bettors. Team USA, always a crowd-pleaser and a favorite, hasn’t gotten off to a great start, losing exhibition matches to Nigeria and Australia. This should make for some interesting lines on the medal games when they begin.


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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