Not surprisingly tennis and football proved the most popular sports, with nearly a quarter of all Olympic bets struck in August coming on the tennis tournament in Rio, with Andy Murray’s gold medal-winning game against Argentinian Martin Del Potro seeing the most activity.
Football also commanded a big slice of the action with one in five bets placed on the sport, but perhaps most surprising was the popularity of handball, which saw similar results.
Serbia’s basketball match against America was the most popular individual event of the whole tournament, with Usain Bolt also proving popular with punters looking for a quick thrill.
In-play betting was also at a premium, with 60 per cent of bets struck coming during events.
Sportsbet.io spokesperson Joe Jordan, said: “Rio 2016 has demonstrated just how popular betting on the Olympic Games has become. Not just on tennis and football, but also handball and track events. Tennis and football will always prove popular, however it’s the popularity of the so-called lesser sports that is impressive. Nobody would have expected handball to achieve similar volumes as football.”
While the Olympic numbers were boosted by tennis and football, the enhanced profile given to some sports show that there is interest in any competitive game as a betting event if it is televised and promoted enough, and perhaps if there is local involvement.
Despite these figures, the industry isn’t convinced that the Olympics, and it’s four year cycle, will ever make a huge boost to the bottom line like other major international tournaments. In a poll on industry content portal TotallyGaming.com, two thirds of respondents said that the Olympics is ‘just not engaging enough for a sports betting customer’.