The Popularity of Betting at the Olympics

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Olympics. Image Credit: Shutterstock

With the already once-delayed Olympic Games scheduled to take place at the end of July, punters are rubbing their hands with the selection of games they will be able to bet on.    

By far the world’s largest sporting spectacle, the summer Olympics draws droves of gamblers every four years, who eagerly place bets on a very diverse schedule of events.  While the repertoire of competitions and games has changed somewhat over the years, one thing has remained constant – the excitement and anticipation of the spectators.  

From the time the Olympic flame is lit to the closing ceremony, every moment of the games represents an opportunity for the bettors to win money.  With the Tokyo Olympics two months away, betting shops and sportsbooks have been hiring telephone line staff and setting their odds in anticipation of the upcoming sporting spectacle.

Betting Strategies at the Olympics

Gambling at the Olympic Games isn’t any different from betting online or at an in-house casino. Players still need to monitor their bankrolls and betting limits while having a level of understanding of the sport they plan to bet on.

The betting strategy entails researching which players and teams are due to participate in specific tournaments, previous victories and injuries, and the surfaces they are likely to play on. All these factors significantly impact the odds and outcomes in sport, irrespective of how inconsequential it may seem when you’re placing your bets.

Various Olympic Betting Markets

You’ll find similar betting options for all Olympic sports. Bets like winner bets, future bets, parlays, and prop bets are typical betting markets you’ll find in basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis, ice hockey, and other games.

However, some less common sports like fencing, sailing, or water polo tend to have the least betting options since they are not as popular as mainstream games and tournaments. You’d need to compare a couple of different sportsbooks or sites if you wish to find more betting options for less popular games.

Betting Limits at the Olympics

Olympic betting limits often depend on the sportsbook or gambling site that you select. In general, most of them have limits of up to US$1,000 for betting on popular games.  European sportsbooks offer lower limits to North American players since most of the sports are not as popular outside of Europe. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you can’t win a significant prize if you decide to bet on them. 

List of Sports to Expect at Tokyo Olympics

Although some changes are still possible, these are the sports confirmed for the 2021 Olympic Games: archery, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, handball, judo, kayaking, modern pentathlon, rowing, rugby 7s, sailing, shooting, soccer, swimming, synchronised swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, track and field, triathlon, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

A Brief History of Olympic Games

The Olympic Games originated in Olympia, Greece, in 776 BC. The games were a combination of religious and athletic festivities that took place every four years, between 6 August and 19 September. The legend says that Hercules founded the festival in honour of his father, Zeus.

After the Romans conquered Greece, the popularity of the games began to decline, along with the quality of the events. It would take another 1,500 years before the ancient tradition was revived by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1896.

The first Olympics of the modern era saw 280 athletes from 13 countries compete across 43 events. The contestants were all male, with women permitted to take part in the games from 1900 onwards.  In 1920, the Olympic flag was hoisted for the first time in Antwerp, Belgium. The flag depicted five-coloured interlocking rings that symbolise Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, and the Americas. 

In 1986, the Winter and Summer Olympics were separated by a two-year gap instead of being held in the same year.  Both events are routinely scheduled to take place in 4-year increments, even in circumstances when the Games couldn’t take place, such as during both world wars and, more recently, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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