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Most popular sports to bet on

Sports betting has seen a surge in popularity in the United States in recent years. Since the Supreme Court removed the The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), in 2018, online betting in particular has risen to become one of the most lucrative industries in the country. Online sportsbooks and online casinos have attracted new bettors from all over the country. Operators are fighting for a share of the market, meaning there has never been more options for sports bettors to choose from.

To highlight how significant betting on sports has become, let’s look at the numbers. In the online and offline world of sports betting, the numbers are massive, with some of the biggest betting conglomerates having hundreds of thousands of customers around the world.  Sports wagering makes up about 30 to 40 percent of the global gambling market, which also includes lotteries, casinos, poker, and other gaming. It’s estimated that over half a trillion (over €500 million) is wagered in bets around the world annually.  In the USA alone, Investment firm Morgan Stanley predicts the betting market will generate almost $7 billion in revenue by 2025, up from $833 million in 2019.

The best sports betting apps in the US

All of the above means sportsbooks need to stand out from the crowd to attract new users. One way they can do this is by having as many sporting markets available to bet on as possible. The US is filled with passionate sports fans, so betting sites must ensure they are offering odds and markets on all of the major domestic and international sports.

With that said, let’s take a look at the most popular sports to bet on in the US.

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Betting is now active across all sports and newer niches like eSports and crypto betting are the fastest growing both in player participation, viewership, and betting. But there have always been the staple few giants that account for most of the global sports betting market, and while figures may vary depending on the country, for the most part, these are the most popular sports to bet on:

American Football-NFL Betting

Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the United States. It is also the biggest draw at legal and regulated sportsbooks. Professional football generates the largest amount of overall handle, with each game on the schedule attracting lots of attention and betting action. Customers in some states can bet on the both pro football (NFL) and college football, with all of the types of bets available ranging from money line sport to live betting.

Football in Europe is referred to as soccer of course, but even across the pond bettors love placing bets on what they call ‘American football’. You can choose to place a futures bet on who you think the Super Bowl winner will be before the regular season begins, or choose to place some parlays for a full weekend slate of games.

There will be plenty of betting opportunities on most US sportsbooks when it comes to NFL betting.

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Soccer is the biggest and most played sport globally  so unsurprisingly makes this list. Horse racing used to be top of the pile but in play-betting and early cash-outs has turned betting on soccer into a monster.  It’s estimated that over £1 billion is bet on soccer every year in the UK.  Due to many unregulated markets, it’s impossible to get accurate figures for the global market, but with viewership figures into hundreds of millions for big events, the true figure of betting in football must be enormous.

The MLS is also rising in popularity, among other sports in the US, with the national team having young stars such as Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie. It is hoped that the USMNT will qualify for the 2022 World Cup and further enhance the popularity of soccer in the country.

The best soccer sportsbooks

Horse Racing

This is a sport that has been synonymous with gambling for many years, and for most of history, horse racing was the most popular sport to bet on.  It’s still a global giant and one of the only sports you can bet on 24/7 around the world, some of the richest sporting events are horse races, and with big prize money comes big viewership and big punters.

Betting on horse racing is estimated to be over €100 billion annually.  Surprisingly Japan is the biggest market, followed by the UK, Australia. Racing is a massive industry in the USA and with betting becoming legalised in some states, this could be a sleeping giant.


The best horse racing betting sites in USA


This is probably a surprise to many, but tennis is the third most popular sport to betting on globally.  Live/in-play betting started when you could choose to bet on who was going to win a set, now you can bet on who’s going to win a game, this amount of combinations makes tennis a very high-frequency betting sport.

The draws in tennis also make it an easy low odds bet, for example, in the first few rounds you might have the Federer or Nadal playing an outsider, and given the fact that the big three in tennis have dominated the sport for 20 years, they very rarely lose to an outsider.  However, live betting has been the major factor in the massive rise in tennis betting.

If you want to keep updated with the latest tennis schedule, the international tennis federation has all of the crucial news and information.

The best tennis betting sites


Golf has been one of the biggest risers in sports betting over the last few. With 78 players playing at any given moment on the course, and a ton of betting formats, it’s not hard to see why this is such a popular one with punters.  Big events are run across 3 days while majors are 4 days, add this to the amount of players on the field and you have so many more opportunities, odds, and variable outcomes than there are with other sports.

The 5 best golf betting sites


Rugby Union has been a big riser through the betting charts, with lots of new nations rising through the ranks of the game.  There are now 30 rugby playing countries around the world with 20 of these qualifying for the 2019 World Cup,

which was the biggest rugby event in the history of the game.

Outside the World Cup, the Home Nations in the Southern Hemisphere and Six Nations in Europe are the 2 big annually events that people like to take a punt on.  Then there’s the Super Rugby League, Premiership in England, Top 14 in France, and the Champions Cup for the top European teams which all see massive volumes of betting.

In-play betting in a game with so many variables made rugby one of the most popular sports to bet on last year.

Complete guide to online betting in the USA

Boxing / MMA

Boxing is another sport synonymous with betting for many years and while it may have been eclipsed by football, tennis, and golf is still a big one.  MMA is a relatively new sport but through the history of the UFC, the numbers are getting bigger.


The fastest growing sport and sports market in regards to betting volume is eSports.  The increased popularity of eSports is pushing bookmakers to adapt quickly or fall behind.  While virtual racing has been around for years, the other virtual sports have exploded in popularity in 2020, with all the major bookmakers offering different eSports match betting This growing volume is rapidly driving revenue generation across the sports betting industry.

Other notable sports

We thought it was worth mentioning some other sports which also draw in the crowds:

  • Basketball
  • Cycling
  • Cricket

Although many people believe sports like basketball are just about the NBA in the US, there is a successful European basketball league that attracts plenty of attention.

The eSports betting industry


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