No doubt the most interesting news for many about this year's edition of the Summer Olympics won't come from the pool, the basketball court or the track. It comes from inside the dark wagering casinos in Nevada, where for the first time legal wagering on the Olympics will be allowed. But don't expect massive crowds cheering javelin throws or backstrokes in Vegas sports rooms. Perhaps a nice gathering for a USA basketball game toward the end of the medal games, but that should be about it. And strangely, maybe that's why it's happening for the very first time with several betting asterisks.
You see sports fans, it's all about potential cheating, corruption and U.S. casinos logical right to fear the opportunity for someone or any group to fix the opportunity to beat them.
The most memorable circumstance was boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. being denied his gold medal in 1988 by South Korean Park Si-Hun in a stunning 3-2 decision. Si-Hun could barely raise his arms in victory by the referee after getting the crap beaten out of him by Jones. Even the hometown South Koreans booed and it took 10 years for the International Olympic Committee to rule that three judges were bribed.
Something good did happen out of it though, as the IOC has since instituted a new scoring system for boxing. Too bad they haven't found a better system for humans as many of the IOC leaders and people responsible for awarding the Olympic games to host countries have found to be entirely corrupt.
Flash Forward Rio 2016
In somewhat of a surprise, the Nevada Gaming Control Board will allow wagering on the Olympics for the first time. BUT only on games and or events that do not involve a judging or scoring system. In other words, it's OK to bet on the basketball games, track and field events, swimming, etc. However, every survey done thus far does not indicate much excitement or huge support for wagering in many categories. A few obvious reasons why:
What makes the Olympics pretty but rather unexciting from a competitive nature is we generally know who is expected to win most medals. Only that person not winning is considered a disappointment. Therefore, the odds for them are astronomical. Making betting on them impractical or betting against them even more foolish. Kind of sounds like most of the props at the Academy Awards, doesn't it?
The second reason is most Americans have never heard the names nor know anything about the people they are betting against, let alone know much about betting on. That's similar to the NFL pre-season, only they're getting paid a lot better.
Going for the Gold
If you're still really intrigued and need an alternative to mid-season major league baseball, the most top online sportsbooks offer a vast array of betting options daily. Here's a look at a few interesting categories from two Elite-rated sportsbooks, BetOnline and Bovada.
Country to Win Most Gold Medals (courtesy of BetOnline)
USA - 500
Any other Country + 1000
Perhaps you might want to throw a few dollars down here and chant USA for two weeks. Bovada has the U.S. listed at -550 and China at +350. Don't know how you could root for China and no other country has a chance.
Odds to win Men's Basketball Tournament (courtesy of BetOnline)
OK, here's your chance to answer the big question. Is Goliath motivated to beat David when he's being paid an average of $15 million per year and looking at playing 100+ games coming up in two months? Despite many of the top NBA all-stars sitting at home, still an impressive array of talent is an imposing -1200 favorite to win the gold again.
Supposedly, Spain, France and even host country Brazil have pretty good teams but nowhere near the U.S. if they seriously come to play. More of the action will be on the individual game lines and holding breath in the closing minutes when giant double digits spreads will be decided for the red, white and blue team.
Olympics 2016 100m Butterfly Men – Winner (courtesy of Bovada)
Michael Phelps (USA) EVEN
Chad Le Clos (RSA) +200
Laszlo Cseh (HUN) +350
Joseph Schooling (SIN) +1000
Tom Shields (USA) +1400
Konrad Czerniak (POL) +2800
Li Zhuhao (CHN) +4000
Piero Codia (ITA) +6600
Mehdy Metella (FRA) +6600
Pawel Korzeniowski (POL) +8000
Evgeny Koptelov (RUS) +8000
Matteo Rivolta (ITA) +8000
Jeremy Stravius (FRA) +8000
Alexsandr Sadovnikov (RUS) +8000
I stuck this one in here not because I have even heard of any of these dudes in the pool besides Michael Phelps. All I know is IF Phelps was a sure thing he would surely be a much bigger favorite than Even money. Again, the line is telling you something here to do the research to pick one of the other swimmers at a nice price here to pull a minor upset.
Lastly, if you're not sure about specific medal winners and "Totals" are more of your thing, Bovada even has a few Over/Under wagers to keep your interest going throughout the Summer Olympics.
USA – Total Gold Medals
Over 42.5 -140
Under 42.5 +110
For the record, I did some checking and the USA won a total of 46 gold in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Can't make a firm recommendation here besides again warning you to stay away from pre-season football and betting on Olympic archery if you're truly bored. By the way, it really is available if you can hit the target.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.