What are the biggest betting events of the sporting year?

While some of the best bets are to be found on a weekly basis by scanning the NFL or NBA odds, as far as sheer weight of money is concerned, there are some obvious standouts as to the biggest betting events of the year.

Billions are ploughed into these markets on an annual basis from punters all over the globe, with sportsbooks like BetDSI re-pricing their odds to reflect how the betting public expects the event to go.

Some of the most wagered-upon events are one-offs – think boxing matches that feature big-name stars and even crossover athletes like Conor McGregor. In fact, for McGregor’s bout with Floyd Mayweather in 2017, one bettor alone laid down the best part of $1m on ‘Money’ to win, which he duly did.

So, what are the biggest recurring betting events of the sporting year?

Soccer World Cup

This event only takes place every four years, and that only serves to create more betting interest amongst soccer-loving wagerers. 

The 2018 World Cup is estimated to have seen a whopping $136bn bet in total, which perhaps isn’t a big surprise when you consider that the global TV audience for the tournament in Russia was an incredible 3.5 billion.

Intriguingly, the 2022 World Cup will be the first in which sports betting is legal for millions more people in America, so it will be fascinating to see how much is wagered later this year.

Super Bowl

The biggest betting day in North America, it’s no great surprise to learn that billions of dollars exchange hands between bettors and sportsbooks – and hopefully back again – in the lead-up to the Super Bowl.

Around $7bn was the number put on the 2022 Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, and that figure is only likely to increase in the years ahead as more and more states lift the prohibition on sports betting for the first time.

From money line bets to the color of the Gatorade shower for the winning coach, the Super Bowl betting market has taken on a life of its own.

March Madness

America’s love of college sports knows no bounds, and March Madness tends to be the venue for much of the NCAA betting interest.

All told, the springtime event takes more in wagering revenue than the Super Bowl – although, of course, this is largely due to the fact that March Madness has 67 games each year.

Even so, around $8.5bn is taken by the sportsbooks on the tournament, ensuring March Madness rightfully takes its place on the list of the biggest betting events of the calendar year.

Grand National

This sporting event has more of a European feel, but the money wagered upon it is extraordinary.

Almost like the UK’s answer to the Kentucky Derby, the Grand National takes place each April at Aintree Racecourse in England. It’s a race which attracts the betting interest of people who otherwise might not place a wager all year long.

The 2019 edition is thought to have been the most bet-upon edition of the Grand National in modern times, with some £300m – that’s approximately $370m – wagered on the 40-horse field.

Kentucky Derby

Most racing fans would agree that the Kentucky Derby is rightfully considered the most prestigious renewal on American soil, ahead of the Breeders’ Cup and the Belmont Stakes.

And it seems as though bettors agree too, wagering an average of $250m each year on the action in Louisville – by far and away the highest take for horse racing in North America.

So exciting is the Kentucky Derby that odds are offered in far-flung countries like Japan and Australia, signifying the global appeal of the race.

NBA Finals

While millions of dollars are wagered on NBA futures and games throughout the season, it’s the Finals where a decent slice of that money comes in.

Nevada sportsbooks estimates a handle of around $10m wagered per game during the Finals series, and in the last four years, the final score has been 4-2 – you don’t need us to tell you how much betting revenue has been generated.

Of course, other states have been successful in legalizing sports betting, and so you can expect the total amount wagered on the NBA Finals to run into the millions of dollars.

World Series

While considered a less popular sibling of the NBA and NFL, the MLB still attracts plenty of interest across North America.

Bettors are no strangers to getting involved in the World Series either, with millions wagered upon the outcome of the championship games.

If you included the huge sums wagered on World Series futures months in advance of the MLB finale, the grand total would be rather considerable.