Betting on the Olympics

Olympic ringsThe Olympics aren’t exactly synonymous with sports betting. However, since the proliferation of online sports betting at the turn of the century, bookmakers across the world have offered odds on just about every Olympics sport.

In some jurisdictions, such as the regulated betting that takes place in Nevada at Las Vegas sportsbooks, betting on the Olympic games was only recently authorized. The first Olympic games available for betting in Nevada is Rio 2016.

Betting on the Olympics was previously not allowed in Nevada under a law concerning amateur sports that are non-collegiate. The Nevada Gaming Board voting unanimously in February 2015 for an amendment that allows sportsbooks to take bets on these events.

William Hill, one of the largest bookmakers in the world offered up the first odds on the Games in Nevada. The United States men’s basketball team received got the most betting action early. They opened at -320 to win the goal medal in Rio 2016.

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History of the Olympics

The history of the Olympics dates back farther than any other sport or competition. The Games were played between 776 BC and 393 AD in Olympia, Greece, but few realize that it took another 1503 years for the Olympics to return. The first modern Games were held in Athens, Greece in 1896.

Up until 1994, the Olympics were held every four years with the Summer Games and Winter Games each taking place in the same year. That changed in 1986 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to separate the Summer and Winter Olympiads. The change broke a 70-year-old tradition.

Each of the Games are now held every four years, but they are separated by two years. This initially began with the 1992 Winter Games and 1994 Summer Games. The most recent Olympics was the 2016 Summer Games, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The next Winter Games is scheduled to be held in PeyeongChang, South Korea in 2018.

The Olympics from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony last a little over two weeks. The Winter Games are held throughout the month of February. The Summer Games are held in August.

Olympic Sports

Olympic sports are frequently changed. Almost every year, there are new sports added and some that have been removed. The list of sports has changed a lot over the past few decades. Most of the sports in the Games are available for betting in domestic or international competitions or leagues.

The list of sports for the 2016 Summer Games are archery, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, canoe / kayak, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, handball, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, rugby 7s, sailing, shooting, soccer, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, track and field, triathlon, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

The list of sports for the 2018 Winter Games are bobsled, luge, skeleton, ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating, short track speed skating, curling, alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic combined.

Markets and Betting Limits

Betting markets for the Olympics won’t be as expansive as major sports, even though the Games are watched by tens of millions around the world. To put it bluntly, even though they’re incredibly popular, that doesn’t always translate into betting action.

Bettors seem to be more interested in wagering on sports like basketball, football, and soccer. Putting their hard earned money down on the Brazilian water polo team just doesn’t have the same appeal.

With that said, betting markets for the Games has increased in recent years. For sports like hockey and basketball, bettors can expect the traditional sides, totals, and moneylines, with some props and live betting opportunities.

Different Bets Available

Most sports will have futures options available. Many of these have been extended to which teams win each group, along with medals. There are also propositions available on individual athletes and head-to-head props, putting different athletes against each other. Perhaps the most popular bet is totals betting on the number of medals each country will win.

Sportsbook Variation

Bettors will see a lot of variation between bookmakers with the markets available for the Olympics. It is certainly something to check out if you’re looking to bet the Games extensively before you deposit.

Betting Limits

Betting limits have a wide range. Sports like basketball and hockey will probably be close or equal to that of the professional leagues or collegiate competitions. For other sports, especially those which aren’t popular outside of the Games may have substantially lower limits. The same can be said for most future bets, regardless of the sport.

Betting limits will also depend on the operator and market. European bookmakers have larger limits than most American sportsbooks, and it is more likely they will take more in the Olympics because the many sports are more popular in European markets compared to American ones.

Americans may be able to bet with higher limits at the higher limit professional sportsbooks, but most recreational sportsbooks will have small betting limits for the Games. Of these books, it is unlikely that you will be able to bet more than $1,000 in any market, and even that may be on the high end.

Olympic Betting Strategy

Betting on the Olympics isn’t much different than other competitions. Bettors should still utilize line shopping and bankroll management. Essentially, preparing yourself to bet the Games is gaining knowledge about the sports and each team.

If you’re going to be wagering on medal counts of each Olympic team, then you’re going to need to gain a knowledge of each country’s competitors on the whole. For individual sports, much of the knowledge is already out there. The stakes change for the Olympics regarding the prize, but sports are still the sports.

If you’re regularly betting handball and understand the game inside and out, the Olympics just offers more betting opportunities. The same goes for other sports like basketball, although bettors will need a little more international knowledge.

Betting on the Olympics isn’t much different than betting the same sport outside of the Olympiad. Bettors can utilize their knowledge of each sport and betting markets on finding some +EV betting opportunities.