Online sports betting has been experiencing a boom in recent years on a global scale. According to Statistica.com, the sports betting industry was valued at $231 billion in 2021. And if market projections are anything to go by, this industry is anticipated to surpass $300 billion by 2023. Alone, sports betting constitutes 30 to 40% of the global gaming market.
Over the years, a few events remain highly wagered. Coincidentally, these are usually the most beloved sports in the world. However, watching their favorite sports is not always enough for most people. Therefore, adding some financial aspect to the gaming action is often perceived as a novel way to spice up things, with the prospect of earning some extra cash.
What is the most wagered sporting event? Here are some of the most heavily-wagered-on sporting events around the world.
By far, soccer is the world's most popular sport. So unsurprisingly, the FIFA World Cup tops the list of the most bet-on sports. This quadrennial soccer tournament draws approximately 3.5 billion viewers, close to half of the world's population.
It is worth noting that a considerable proportion of the viewers are more than average sports enthusiasts. For instance, the sports governing body estimates that more than $100 billion was wagered during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Moreover, throughout the 64-match tournament, the final game between France and Croatia saw bettors wager a record $7.2 billion. Without a doubt, no other sport comes close in terms of popularity.
The Super Bowl is, by far, America's most followed sporting event. This event is the National Football League (NFL) pinnacle, drawing record viewership numbers. Notwithstanding, the gambling numbers further underscore the Super Bowl's popularity.
Over 110 million people watched this sporting event in 2022. The betting numbers are also incredible, with the total number of bets valued at about $7 million. From a betting perspective, this remains intriguing because of its fascinating halftime bets, such as the coin toss or the national anthem, which tend to bring more casual bettors on board.
Rugby enjoys global popularity. Japan's last Rugby World Cup saw 2.5 million spectators follow the action live. But, of course, the number of rugby fans streaming the action or watching on satellite TV was even higher, with reports showing the 2019 event attracted close to a billion viewers.
The exact value of this event in betting terms might not be captured. However, this event could be valued at way beyond $1 billion, judging from the number of viewers who watch the event.
For several weeks, basketball fans worldwide set their eyes on premier men's basketball. As a result, the NBA, undoubtedly the most famous basketball tournament, has become one of the most wagered sporting events.
The 2019 championships saw Americans spend $8.8 million on sports bets. Another interesting statistic is that one in every five adults bet on the event. More than 20 million people watched the event, so it's undoubtedly worth a lot of money.
Horse racing and betting have a long history. Horse racing is one of those sports that is highly influenced by the betting scene. In light of this, many bettors consider the Kentucky Derby a goldmine.
Also regarded as the fastest two-minute sport, this event draws a massive 150,000 spectators, with close to 20 million viewers opting to follow the action from home. In monetary terms, the 2019 Kentucky Derby raked in a gigantic $250.9 million in wagers, surpassing the $139.3 million record set in 2015.
The Grand National is undoubtedly one of the most significant horse racing events in gambling terms. Held in Liverpool since 1983, this national hunt racing event features a series of obstacles during the race. While it's mainly an elite event attended by royalty, it draws more than 500 million viewers worldwide.
The 2021 event saw the total wagered amount climb to almost $400 million, surpassing America's Kentucky Derby.
March Madness is an annual men's college basketball event. With 67 games to bet on, March Madness attracts a healthy number of bets. In addition, as sports viewership continues to rebound following the pandemic, 2022 saw the event record an average of 10.7 million viewers, setting a record for the highest TV views in the event's history.
Before the 2022 March Madness, the American Gaming Association projected that 45 million bettors would place wagers valued at $3 billion.
Sports betting is big money. Although most people believe it is only safe to wager on the world's most popular events, there are vast options. For instance, European soccer leagues are highly featured by the best online bookies today. Irrespective of the event's popularity, placing informed picks and betting responsibly is vital for an enjoyable gaming experience.