The Beijing Olympics has been underway since February 4 and will take place through February 20. With sports betting legalized in 30 states, 19 of which allow online betting, wagers are expected to break records. After legalizing sports betting in 30 states, record-breaking wagers are sure to follow!
NFL lull before the Super Bowl has increased Olympics sports bets
One contributing factor to the expected height of sports wagers on the Beijing Olympics has been the Super Bowl.
The week prior to Super Bowl LVI saw a break in NFL games that could be wagered on, and sports bettors have turned their attention to the Winter Olympics.
Sports manager of Rampart Casino in Las Vegas, Duane Colucci, was optimistic about the additional wagers before the Super Bowl.
“It’s a significant event, people are interested and they’re passionate about their country,” he said. “We’re looking for a good handle, not a superior handle, but it’s lucky it’s happening before the Super Bowl and there’s not a full menu of other sports games.”
The Super Bowl has historically been the biggest single-sports betting event of the year.
Interest continues to rise when it comes to Olympics sports betting
While it hasn’t surpassed the popularity of events like NFL games and the Super Bowl, the popularity of Olympic sports betting is increasing.
Head of DraftKings’ sportsbook, Johnny Avello, says the Olympic Games are a “novelty bet.” The Beijing Olympics will be the third set of Games that DraftKings has taken bets on.
Avello does recognize that this year’s Winter Olympics feels like a big one for sportsbooks. It’s a new and exciting opportunity to wager for bettors.
It’s only been since 2016 that the Olympics could be bet on in Nevada. 2018’s Supreme Court ruling lifting the federal ban on sports betting marks the first time the Games could be wagered outside the Silver State.
Last summer’s Tokyo Games generated a lot of interest from sports bettors. In fact, 20 million people in the U.S. said they planned to bet on the Summer Olympics.
These numbers are coming close to bets taken on the Super Bowl every year. This data gives sportsbooks a lot of hope for high sports betting activity in the Beijing Olympics.
“It will be a record this year,” Avello said. “There’s more events, more people are aware they can bet, and now there are 18 different jurisdictions to place a wager.”
How are sportsbooks handling sports wagers for the Beijing Olympics?
Sportsbooks admit that they don’t typically see as much betting activity for Olympic games compared to the more popular events, like NFL games.
However, given the wider legalization of sports betting in recent years, sportsbooks are integrating Olympic bets into their operation.
“Everyone is expanding,” Colucci said. “Whether it’s FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, they’re putting out player propositions.”
Regarding Rampart Casino’s plans to take Olympic bets, Colucci said, “To compete, we will put up Olympic events to garner some handle.”
Olympic wagering action will likely be, for the most part, from casual gamblers. Professional bettors don’t typically get too aggressive with Olympic bets.
Many sportsbooks offer prop bets for the Olympics. For example, bettors can place wagers on which country will win the highest number of medals.
Bill Krackomberger is the founder of KrackWins app and is a seasoned pro sports bettor. In his opinion, the Olympic bets are entertaining, but for rookies.
“It’s a fun bet,” he said. “You want to bet America to win something. But I wouldn’t recommend this for anybody. I think betting on the Olympics, like any other future betting, is for suckers.”
COVID is putting a damper on the growing interest in Olympic sports betting
There are a lot of unknown factors when it comes to Olympic events that prevent experienced gamblers from betting. COVID is a significant deterrent, with many outcomes of Game disruptions due to pandemic decisions.
China has a “Zero Covid” policy this year, which throws an unpredictable wrench in bets since a favorite competitor or team could quickly be disqualified.
The National Hockey League stepped out of the Winter Olympics altogether this year, citing pandemic concerns.
The NHL says, speaking at a press release in December, that their decision was based on the pandemic wrench thrown into the season.
“Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events…” said NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman. “Olympic participation is no longer feasible.”
Bettman added that the NHL “look(s) forward to Olympic participation in 2026.”
COVID is still an issue, even in the Olympic Village. However, due to mask-wearing and vaccination requirements for participants, COVID cases are declining among Beijing Olympic athletes.
Winter Olympics hasn’t historically been a huge sports betting event. However, by contrast, this year’s participation could prove to be a turning point for the events.
Thanks to the widespread legalization of sports betting, the Games should prove to be a fun bet for sports betting enthusiasts.