What is the Most Popular Sport to Bet on in the US?

gambling on sports in the US

America has one of the largest sporting fan bases in the country, but do you know what the most popular sport to bet on in the US is?

For years, football has been the most popular sport in America. From the early 1900’s to about 1985, however, baseball held that title. It was the huge media push and emergence of stars like Joe Montana and Dan Marino that helped raise the NFL into the most watched sport in America. Unsurprisingly, football is also the most popular sport to bet on in the US.

A 2014 Harris Poll revealed 35% of sporting athletes in the US chose football as their favorite sport. It consistently brings in the most spectators to games, with the Super Bowl annually drawing in the most viewers of any TV broadcast. Football is a phenomenon in America, and a staggering number of sports fans here love to bet on the games.

How much money do American’s spend betting on football?

According to multiple estimates, US gamblers spend around $90 billion per year betting on football games. Most of this gambling is done illegally, despite their being a number of great online sportsbooks in the US such as GTBets that offer betting lines for football.

American football game

The NFL atracts a bigger audience than any other sport in the US (photo:

That number may seem high, but it is likely to increase every year. New forms of sports wagering such as online daily fantasy sports are also contributing to the massive number of sports gambling in America. The 2015 Super Bowl alone generated nearly $119 million from sports betting. So how does NFL betting compare to baseball?

Baseball betting in the US

A study by CNBC revealed that approximately $30 to $40 billion is wagered on MLB every year. Most of this is done illegally. Baseball is not the most popular sport to bet on in the US, partly because there are no point spreads. Nonetheless, $40 billion is a substantial amount of money.

It’s also important to note the major difference in the amount of games played between baseball and football. A regular baseball season lasts 180 days with 2,430 games played. The NFL season lasts far less and only runs 356 games in all. Another poll states that 23% of sports fans claimed to have watched the Super Bowl in its entirety, while only 16% of fans followed the entire World Series.

There is no doubt baseball has a massive fan base, and is likely the most popular sport in the US behind football, but basketball is now bigger than ever before.

The NBA explosion in the US

Ask anyone walking down the street in the US to name a professional athlete, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear them say an NBA player. Basketball has never been bigger in the US, in fact, game seven of the 2016 NBA finals broke ABC’s rating for most watched sporting event in history.

NBA player 2016

Lebron James is one of the most recognizable athletes in the US (photo:

Stars such as Lebron James and Stephen Curry are now household names. Their rivalry had the sporting world up in arms debating over who is better. So how many people are betting on basketball?

Surprisingly, college basketball generates a massive amount of gambling revenue. During March Madness approximately $2.5 billion is illegally wagered by gamblers in the US. It’s unclear how much is spent betting on the NBA, but likely somewhere in the $10-20 billion range.

What about globally?

It’s common knowledge that football is the most popular sport in the world. No, not American football. What we in the US call soccer has the biggest fan base in the world, approximately 3.5 billion, to be exact. Soccer is massively popular throughout most parts of the world, and generates the most gambling revenue out of any sport.

Darren Small, the director of integrity of Sportrader, estimates that the total betting industry generates approximately $700 billion per year, 70% of which comes from soccer. The massive growth of internet usage over the past decade has helped raise the number of sport gamblers around the world.

What many people don’t know, is that cricket is the second most popular sport in the world. There are an estimated 2.5 billion cricket fans, many of which come from India. Field hockey, tennis, and volleyball are also more popular than any “American” sports, and globally, baseball has far more fans than American football.

So yes, American football is the most popular sport to bet on in the US, but globally, it doesn’t even compare to soccer. Online gambling is sure to continue growing, so make sure to stay updated by checking out GamingZion’s US gambling news page!

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