Most Bet On Sports At The Olympic Games
The Olympics is the most watched sporting spectacle on the planet and dominates the headlines for 3 weeks every 4 years (or 5 years during pandemics). Despite this historically the Olympics is not something that is bet on widely, some bookmakers do not even offer markets for the event. Within that, even when you can find markets, they tend to be much more limited compared to professional sports and often come with lower stake/payout limits and very few promotions or incentives.
The ultimate reason for this is most Olympic sports are contested by amateur athletes. This means there is less data available to bookies to properly price many of the markets you see in the Olympics. Especially for athletes from places like China where it can be very difficult to know exactly how well they are performing before the event to appropriately price them, and other athletes against them. This makes bookies fearful and therefore they simply do not price up many of the sports and events.
The fact these are amateurs too means they do not get paid (directly), they also do not have a professional code of conduct in place as with many professional sports. This potentially makes some athletes open to fixing more so than in typical sports, which again makes bookies steer clear of many events.
Still, things are changing a bit and Tokyo 2020 was the most bet on Olympics ever with bigger bookies offering more betting lines than ever before. These are still largely weighted to sports that are already bet on a lot; football, golf, tennis, athletics and boxing, but now it is possible to also bet on many other events including; rowing, gymnastics, table tennis, handball, volleyball, basketball, etc. It is also often the case that some sports are not featured at the heats stage but you will find markets for the finals, this is because bookies have been able to assess the athletes and teams at the heat stage allowing them to then price better for the finals.
Here we look at the most bet on sports and why as well as other options available to punters and previous issues with match-fixing and substance abuse that can impact the markets offered.
The Olympics and the Sports Betting Options
If you do intend to place bets on the Olympics, then you will usually find that the specific sports that bookmakers provide odds on are very much in line with those that they usually offer bets on. If a sportsbook offers lines on football, basketball and tennis as standard, then it will be more likely to offer betting on these sports in terms of the Olympics. Yet, if it doesn’t normally offer sports betting on golf, then it’s likely that it won’t introduce betting on this specifically for the Games.
This is because people using the sites are already aware of how the sports play out and have potentially wagered on them before. What sports are more often available for wagering on if a sportsbook offers Olympics betting? Well, here is a collection of the more popular sports:
- Field Hockey
Bookmakers may also already run odds on less-popular events such as beach volleyball, rugby sevens, badminton, table tennis, handball and water polo, which are Olympic Sports as well. As a result, some sportsbooks may also have odds on the Olympic variants of these sports, too.
As a result, it would be key to state that the most popular sports for betting on at the Olympics are the ones bullet pointed earlier on. And that’s quite understandable considering how popular these sports are in general anyway. Football, basketball and tennis are highly popular with sports bettors, especially when big tournaments are taking place.
It is logically easier for bookies to price these markets as most of the athletes compete in professional teams outside the Olympics that people bet on.
Olympic-Specific Betting Options
Other than betting on specific events there are other markets available to bet on for the Olympics, one of the primary markets relating to this is to be on the nation that will win the most gold medals at the event.
At the same time, you don’t solely have to focus on gold medals. There is also the possibility of betting on which nation will get the most medals from the Olympics overall. This wager covers gold, silver and bronze medals together.
You also have the option of betting on specific competitors to win gold medals. For example, many are now providing odds on athletics competitors for the most distances, men and women. You can also bet on which countries will come out the best in each different sport.
With the rise of bet requests too there are now tons of very specific bets you can request from a betting site, or back a request made by someone else.
Issues Surrounding Olympics Sports Betting
While betting on the Olympics may sound quite compelling, it is also key to note that there are certain problems that could arise from such. It’s important to know about any disadvantages before placing a wager, and because the Olympics are partaken in by amateur competitors, they’re open to a lot more manipulation.
If you were to look at many professional sports, the players are paid high amounts of money for competing. The Olympics often features amateur competitors in each of the sectors, and these players won’t make as much money for their competition. Because of this, there is a lot more chance for these competitors to engage in or accept match fixing. Essentially, competitors may unite with sports bettors to purposely lose a match or event as a way of obtaining a pay-off for it. This is something that has been uncommon. At the 2012 London Olympics, the badminton scene was engulfed in a certain sort of scandal.
Eight players from four teams, which included two Chinese world champions, were thrown out of the Summer Games for their attempts to deliberately lose. However, this wasn’t actually in any sort of connection to a sports betting scam – or at least, so it was thought. Instead, it seems like the top Chinese team tried to throw the match purely for tactical reasons because they didn’t want to have to face the Chinese number two team in the following round. Their opponents then tried their best to undo the plan by playing even worse, and this saw the crowd turn on the competitors with outright boos.
Regardless of which, this was still considered match fixing, despite the fact that it had little to do with a sports betting scenario. And while the Olympics hasn’t specifically been massively affected by match-fixing in the past, it is frequently rocked by accusations of doping and so on. This could potentially be considered as an attempt to manipulate the outcome of matches, as competitors have a clear advantage over their opponents. At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles for example, various competitors were found to have been taking banned substances. Weightlifting competitor Serafim Grammatikopoulos of Greece tested positive for nandrolone, as did Icelandic athletics competitor Vésteinn Hafsteinsson. Meanwhile, Swedish wrestler Tomas Johansson was found to have been taking methenolone, and two Japanese volleyball competitors, Eiji Shimomura and Mikiyasu Tanaka, were taking testosterone and ephedrine, respectively.
This is not to say that substances like this aren’t found in the professional sporting scene, but it tends to stand out more at the Olympics. Already in 2021, before the Games have even started, multiple competitors have been banned from attending. Russian high jumper Danil Lysenko was given a six-year ban for anti-doping charges earlier on in July. As well as that, American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who was actually set to be one of the star competitors in Tokyo, could also miss out on the Games following a positive marijuana test.
The other thing to know about Olympics betting is that there is less data for the bookmakers to be able to price the markets up effectively enough. This is due to the fact that if you compare the Olympics sports with various professional sports, there is little to draw on from previous years. For example, the Premier League has multiple well-known teams competing in matches that they have played through in multiple seasons. Players are well-known as they are in action a lot more than the Olympic Games.
Because the Summer Olympics only occur every four years and feature different competitors in each event, bookies aren’t able to take knowledge from former instances so much. It is also because of this that the odds for Olympic sports aren’t really the greatest for you to benefit from. And as a direct result, you shouldn’t expect to receive massive payouts from betting on the Olympics, either. It is also due to the aforementioned risk of match fixing that the potential payouts are lower too, so if you’re looking for something vast, then betting on the Olympics probably isn’t the best route to take.
The Available Markets and Requesting Bets
While there is a decent enough range of options on hand from most sportsbooks that provide betting on the Olympics, not all bookmakers provide access to such. At the same time, it is important to know that some markets won’t be available through various sites. While you may find that options like betting on the number of medals won per nation will be available or betting on football or golf is accessible, others might not be so readily available to you.
However, some online sportsbooks also accept betting requests from their players. As such, you can contact the support team of your chosen online platform, and request a specific Olympics wager. That’s not to say that the sportsbook will definitely allow you to place such a bet. However, requesting bets is something that is becoming more and more common with online gambling sites. You can always try it and, who knows, perhaps you’ll see the Olympics sports wager that you want to see come into effect.
Betting on the Olympics is an easy enough process to undertake in general, as there are various platforms providing such. It’s just important that you remember all of the important pieces of information about doing so, including the lower payout possibilities and the fact that not all Olympic sports are bound to be available for wagering on.
One other key note to make regarding betting on the Olympics is that some sportsbook apps offer live in-play betting to players. This falls in line with the standard route that many platforms take, allowing you to engage in live football betting or live tennis betting, for example. Therefore, you may find that some bookmakers give you the chance to bet on the Olympics while the events are taking place. Of course, it all boils down to personal preference – so, whether pre-match betting or live betting, whatever works for you is the best route to take.