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The five biggest global sporting events for betting

By LLM Reporters on 5th August 2019

It does not take a genius to understand that the global sports betting market is one of the leading commercial forces behind the competitions and teams we love to watch. A cursory glance at any popular sports team often reveals a sponsorship patch worn on a team’s kit, or an ‘official betting partner’ for the league or competition that they participate in.

According to research on the subject, the American sports betting industry’s annual gross revenue is set to reach more than $155bn (yes, that’s right, billion) by 2024, while it is estimated that the total global revenues generated by sports betting sits somewhere between $700bn and $1 trillion. Indeed, in some cases, betting revenue far outstrips any other commercial avenue explored by sports’ governing bodies, including traditional ticket revenues.

In turn, the world’s leading gambling brands are also sponsoring some big names in the sports arena. You have scenarios where casinos are directly sponsoring entire teams, while football is big business in the UK, with the much-hyped Premier League attracting millions of pounds of sponsorship revenue from popular online betting sites. An interesting read by the casino betting experts at Top10Casino offers some interesting facts about how casinos have become big names in most of the major football tournaments and how they have impacted the sponsorship market.

But which events are the most popular for punters? Read on for the top five global sports events for betting.

The FIFA World Cup (Football)

During the 2018 World Cup, held in Russia, it is estimated that global bookmakers made £41.3 billion profit out of punters. Image credit: blinow61/Bigstock.com

Soccer (or football, to you and me), is the world’s most popular sport – both in participation and audience. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that it is also the world’s most popular sport to bet on. It is estimated that global betting on soccer is responsible for over 70% of the world’s total gambling revenues – and the World Cup is the pinnacle.

During the 2018 World Cup, held in Russia, it is estimated that global bookmakers made £41.3 billion profit out of punters. In the UK alone, which surely saw a boost from England’s unlikely yet inspiring run to the semi-finals, betting increased by more than double the previous tournament, from £1bn to £2.5bn.

The Super Bowl (American Football)

Game day football party table with the inscription super bowl.
The Super Bowl, the National Football League’s championship game, is considered by many as the world’s greatest annual sporting event, and the betting certainly reflects that

If soccer is king in the majority of the world, it still trails behind the power of a different shaped football in the United States. The Super Bowl, the National Football League’s championship game, is considered by many as the world’s greatest annual sporting event, and the betting certainly reflects that.

According to estimates made by the American Gaming Association (AGA), $4.76bn was wagered for the 2018 Super Bowl, a new record, as the Philadelphia Eagles overcame Tom Brady’s New England Patriots to take the championship. This, of course, is only the figure for US punters, and does not factor in an increasing global interest. Outside of horse racing, you will be hard-pressed to find a single sporting event with a greater pull for the casual, and hardcore, sports bettor.

March Madness (American College Basketball)

March Madness, a 64-team elimination basketball tournament involving college athletes, perhaps hits all of the right notes when it comes to a sports betting audience

By now, you’re probably noticing a theme – that America has a great deal of influence on the betting market, alongside the United Kingdom. The USA has a rich and storied sporting history, and this extends to its college and university-level sport, too.

March Madness, a 64-team elimination basketball tournament involving college athletes, perhaps hits all of the right notes when it comes to a sports betting audience. The formula is perfect – an intensive knock-out battle royale competition in a high-octane sport with small margins for error with semi-professional competitors? It’s a sports bettor’s dream, and the numbers reflect that. According to the AGA, more than $10bn was wagered on the 2018 bracket, in which the Villanova Wildcats emerged victorious over the Michigan Wolverines.

The Grand National

The Grand National attracts 600 million viewers worldwide and more than £225m bet it’s the world’s biggest steeplechase. Image credit: Celtic prints/Bigstock.com

One sport heavily reliant on the custom of the casual and hardened punter is horse racing, and no race, in Europe anyway, quite captures the imagination of either of these groups quite like the Grand National.

From office sweepstakes to serious betting, the National Hunt event held at Aintree attracts interest like no other race on the calendar. According to British bookmakers, the 2017 race attracted bets of over £300m, and viewing figures of over 600 million worldwide.

The Kentucky Derby

The United States’ answer to the Grand National, the Kentucky Derby attracts a great deal of interest in North America

The United States’ answer to the Grand National, the Kentucky Derby attracts a great deal of interest in North America. Churchill Downs, in Louisville, hosts comfortably over 150,000 spectators beside the racetrack, and the best part of 20 million viewers on live television across America. The entire race-card is allegedly worth over $200 million in US betting – which, unlike the Grand National figure above, does not account for the volume of off-radar and illegal wagering taking place on the event.

Image at the very top of the article: StockphotoVideo/Bigstock.com