Olympics are expected to generate huge handle from professional and casual gamblers

With the first Olympics for licensed and regulated sportsbooks in the United States, bookmakers around the world expect to see increased wagering.

2020 Tokyo Olympics Betting

The Olympics are finally returning after being postponed in 2020 and bookmakers worldwide are expecting huge betting to take place on the "amateur" event. After all, these are the first Games since the Supreme Court reversed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), allowing the expansion of sports betting in the United States.

Sportsbooks have had odds on the overall medal count up for quite some time and they have been seeing strong betting on the Tokyo Sumer Olympics already. Dave Mason, from industry giant BetOnline told us, "Like every couple of years, we expect a significant handle with Olympics wagers. It’s not Saturday or Sunday football, by any means, but the bettors are in the dog days of summer and they are itching for something else to get down on."

betting on the 2020 Tokyo OlympicsSome of the major events, like basketball soccer, baseball, golf and tennis are expected to see the greatest amount of money wagered. But, according to Curacao-based GTBets, a good amount of handle is also expected on the non-typical major betting sports. "We expect to get a bit of betting interest on gymnastics, handball, volleyball, and wrestling," according to the linesmakers at GTBets. BetOnline's Mason added, "track & field and swimming futures, as well as matchups, are also generating a lot of interest."

BetOnline is offering wagering on just about every sport, with odds set for 165 Olympic events. In one odd twist of U.S. regulation, at many U.S.-based sportsbooks, gymnastics betting is not available. Regulators are not fans of betting on amateur events and due to the young age of many gymnasts (under 18 years old), getting down on Simone Biles at books like Fan Duel or WynnBet may be difficult.

Though online betting for the Tokyo Olympics is going to boost overall sports betting handle, it's not like bookmakers are expecting huge profits to bolster their summer betting bottom line. Especially this year, there is an added level of complexity when it comes to creating the odds, due to the pandemic. "This year, in particular, was incredibly difficult to handicap since many sports did not hold trials, prelims or world championships," said Adam Burns, Odds Manager at BetOnline.ag. "Setting odds for the Olympics is already tough because we don't follow most of these sports year-round, but COVID made our jobs even more difficult." In addition, Burns added, "We'll have the largest exposure and biggest number of bets on everything USA."

Even at the top online sportsbooks some events will not be offered, see skateboarding. According to Burns, "We haven't had the time or resources to handicap something like that just yet."

Top Olympic Bets

Tokyo Olympics gamblingSportsbooks expect to have the largest amount of bets placed and money wagered on Olympic basketball. According to BetOnline's Burns, "A single USA Men's Basketball game during the Olympics will generate as much money in wagers as a regular season NBA game." GTBets also expects basketball to be the biggest betting event "by far".

Unfortunately, for U.S. Men's Basketball, following a couple of exhibition losses, as well as dismissed star players due to COVID, the team has seen its odds of taking home the gold drop from -1000 to -350 at BetOnline.ag. Surprisingly, Spain, the 3rd choice, with +800, or 8/1, odds is seeing a significant amount of basketball bets, according to Burns.

The fact that professionals now compete alongside the amateurs also boosts some wagering, with an increase of golf betting at most online sportsbooks.

Pros and Joes

Betting on what is mostly an amateur sports competition would seem to be something that players only dabble in, especially those who gamble for a living. But more than one online sportsbook told us that sharp action on the Games is typically about equal to that of recreational bettors. Mason told us that "the sharps really dig into these Olympic disciplines and find value in the rough." One example at BetOnline is Canadian sprinter, Andre De Grasse, who is taking 52% of bets at 8-1 to win the Men's 100m, despite the +125 favorite, the current fastest man in the world, Trayvon Bromell.

Olympic odds and early betting handle

Not surprisingly, many bettors are backing the U.S. for gold medals won and overall medal count, as they have led the medal count in five of the last six Olympic games. BetOnline's Mason noted that 66% of the money is on USA over 112.5 medals. They are also taking on huge action on the total gold medals for the 'home team', Japan (27.5), with 91% of bets on over.

It is best to shop around at both the top online sportsbooks and mainstream outlets for future bets on the medal counts. WagerWeb.eu has team USA posted with a total of 46.5 gold medals, BetOnline has them at 42.5 and the Americans are set in between at mainstream sportsbooks like FanDuel, which has them bringing 44.5 Gold medals back to U.S. soil.

The Opening ceremonies for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are Friday morning, so get any future bets in now! There will be live betting available for many events and some online sportsbooks will be creating new markets and setting odds for events throughout the 17 days of the Summer Games.

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