Step right up! Place your bets! From the ancient arenas of Rome to today’s digital sportsbooks, wagering on athletic competitions captivates audiences worldwide.
Whether you’re a stats nerd or a superstitious fan, the lure of winning money while rooting for your team proves irresistible.
In this article, I’m doubling down to investigate sports that rack up the most betting revenue on planet Earth.
For each sport, we’ll share
- Key details on its overall market size
- What makes it so popular for wagers
1. American Football (tops the list)
Without question, football leads the sports betting world by a wide margin, with somewhere between $150 billion and $250 billion wagered annually ($242 million is reported by Statistica).
The Super Bowl alone cements football betting supremacy, drawing over $6 billion in bets each year.
Endless games, pools, and prop bets provide constant gambling stimulus through long seasons.
While smaller than football, basketball still manages to attract over $90 billion in sports bets every year.
March Madness bracket pools lead the charge as millions fill out predictions.
But today, every pro and college game offers countless betting varieties through mobile apps, from spreads to props.
From first pitch to final out, baseball brings in approximately $70 billion in betting activity annually, with 162 games a year.
There’s no shortage of opportunities to place a daily wager at a range of national or regional sportsbooks (Colorado), especially if your team plays almost every day.
Individual performances and streaky outcomes allow long-term bets.
Soccer stands as the most popular sport worldwide, with devoted fandom and leagues spanning the globe.
This passion transfers directly over to sports betting, with $60 billion wagered on football every year, including World Cup viewings.
Matches capture worldwide attention—and money exchanging hands.
5. Formula One Racing
Viewership has skyrocketed recently for Formula One racing—the premier class of circuit racing.
Correspondingly, F1 competitions now facilitate over $50 billion in annual sports bets as each shorter season event carries major implications, drawing viewers to tune in and wager.
From Wimbledon’s grass to the French Open’s clay, tennis has grown into a top sport for betting, now processing over $40 billion each year.
The head-to-head format produces unlikely upsets and intriguing odds that vary by court surface type.
7. Ice Hockey Pulls
Only the fifth most watched sport, ice hockey still manages to pull over $20 billion in wagers annually across pro leagues and NCAA games as devoted fans closely follow their favorite teams through 82-game seasons.
The speed, physicality, and streakiness keep gamblers engaged from puck drop to final horn.
Prizefighting has always drawn gambling interest, for as long as humans have stepped into rings and cages.
That trend continues today, with over $15 billion wagered on boxing events annually, including massive matchups capturing worldwide attention.
While currently smaller than boxing bets, mixed martial arts gambling has seen immense growth recently, piggybacking off rising viewership and unpredictable fight outcomes.
MMA takes in around $10 million per year in sports betting revenue.
Variable fighting styles and sudden endings all provide variables for gamblers to analyze—and capitalize on—when placing a bet.
While not in the upper echelon yet of betting market size, rugby betting has increased by over 50% in the last three years, to over $8 billion annually, following rising exposure and simplifying game interpretations for new fans.
The sport’s global footprint is also expanding rapidly into potential new gambling markets.
Below are four more sports to add to the list, keeping with the same style.
While golf may move at a more leisurely pace, betting interest has grown significantly, recently topping over $7 billion in annual handle, as events like the Masters continue gaining mainstream traction.
Opportunities abound from traditional tournament winners to proposition, and matchup bets tied to individual hole outcomes.
12. The Olympics
Every two years, the Olympic Games capture intense attention across dozens of unique sports.
Fans tune in for improbable moments and the betting handle correspondingly approaches $5 billion per Summer and Winter Olympics.
Expect Paris 2024 to drive record bets across categories like swimming, gymnastics, and skiing events, with star athletes closely tracked.
13. Horse Racing
Dating back over 200 years, horse racing notably draws consistent gambling attention in key areas like Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Australia, and select American states, totaling nearly $4 billion annually now.
Options span traditional win bets to exacta and trifectas on most races, plus future odds-on championship events.
14. Table Tennis
Popularized in basements globally, the rapid pace and momentum swings of table tennis actually drive nearly $2 billion in bets annually.
Asia leads as a hotspot but the recent rise of U.S. athletes and broadcasting bolsters global visibility and expanded pro tours to wager on possible upsets at odds.
You may laugh but professional darts has captured expanding betting volume, nearing a billion dollars annually following limited legalization and live streaming growth.
Top tournaments now sell out giant venues as fans connect with characters while tracking statistics that inform wager choices.
Expect expanded league formats to stoke growth as niche sports gain traction for betting variety.