The Most Common Sports for Betting in America

min read
BetMGM Jun 16, 2021, 5:59 PM
Comerica Park during a baseball practice session with the Detroit Tigers Summer Workouts

So let’s get down to brass tacks. Why are some sports more popular to bet on than others? 

Here are a few simple answers:

  • Bettors tend to put money on the sports they’re most familiar with. If you know it, you’re more likely to be able to make an informed wager.
  • The general popularity of a sport is also important. Soccer tops most sportsbook casino lists because it’s the most widely played, watched and supported game in the world.
  • However, people will also bet more commonly on some lesser-known sports. For example, rugby isn’t hugely popular in the US. There are around 150,000 registered players compared to two million in England where the sport originated. But, it remains a popular betting sport. This is probably because it’s a simpler game to wager on than baseball, and well-supported events like the Rugby Championship and international tours have upped the game’s visibility.

So let’s find out which sports are firm favorites in the betting world. 

Soccer

Eduardo Vargas of UANL Tigres celebrates his goal with teammate Luis Quinones against the New York City FC

It’s easy to see why soccer tops the list at most sportsbook casinos. It’s the most popular sport in many countries around the world. Matches attract large numbers of spectators and huge amounts in sponsorship revenue. Soccer, still called football in most countries, has grown in popularity in the US, after the country hosted the World Cup in 1994. Now, major English soccer leagues are covered extensively on NBC Sports.

Soccer odds are the most common betting found at both online casinos and physical sportsbooks. It’s a relatively simple sport to understand and follow. You can bet on all major soccer tournaments at BetMGM’s NJ online casino. If you aren’t a soccer pundit, you can get started with the basics of sports betting. It’s a great way to learn about things like point spreads, money lines, totals, and parlays.

Tennis

A view from the top stands of Novak Djokavic playing tennis against Denis Shapovalov in the Rolex Paris Masters

Following soccer, more people are likely to get involved with tennis betting compared to any other sport. There are a few good reasons for this. Tennis is a relatively simple game of sublime skill. If you aren’t already familiar with the sport, all you’ll need to get started is a glossary of tennis terms and a comfortable chair to catch up on some of the action.

Part of the appeal is that the sport is widely accessible to most audiences. Tournaments are played around the world, throughout the year. Tennis’s governing body is the International Tennis Federation. They administer, regulate the sport, and organize tournaments around the world in cooperation with 211 national and six regional tennis associations. Other ITF partners include the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

If you’re into the idea of becoming a tennis sports betting whiz, look out for beach tennis. It’s a variation of the game that’s gaining popularity with fans around the world.

Football

A digital betting board showing the odds for the Super Bowl LI between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots

Betting on the American football action is common in the US and in many other parts of the world. We probably have Hollywood and the popularity of American culture to thank for this. These days, pro football games are even played in London.

During the American football season, from early September through late December, pundits have 256 games and 32 teams to wager on with a variety of ways to bet. IT ranges from a simple who will win the game to handicap and over/under betting. The number of football wagers made each year is jaw-dropping. Many bookmakers and live online casinos offer 24-hour live football betting.

In-playing wagers are also hugely popular and with BetMGM’s casino games app for Android and iOS mobile devices, you can follow every minute of the game. Bet on things like interceptions and turnovers or the first touchdown for a chance at those last-minute wins.

A basketball going through the hoop into the side netting

The pro basketball league action is some of the most difficult to bet on. But it can also be incredibly rewarding when you do win real money on your wagers. The reason is due to its complexity. The sheer number of players, teams, and divisions creates so many variables that it’s genuinely difficult to make accurate predictions in basketball. Difficult but not impossible!

To increase your chances of success and to give you the most enjoyable basketball betting experience possible, BetMGM’s sports betting casino adds in things like live betting choices, live streaming, and even bonuses to whet your appetite.

Baseball

 Baseball player Adam Engel of the Chicago White Sox makes a diving catch against the Texas Rangers and his teammate celebrates in the background.

Baseball odds are similar. There are loads of players, teams, and action. If you educate yourself about the sport and do your homework before a season or game, you could be in the running for a rewarding betting experience.

Baseball is a money line sport, unlike bets in basketball and football which are based mainly on the point spread. Two advantages of betting on baseball include simply picking who wins the game, not who covers, and with around 2,430 games played in the regular season, you have plenty of opportunities to maximize your edge.

Ice hockey rink with David Backes of Anaheim Ducks battling with Marco Scandella of St Louis Blues for a puck

Like American football, the ice hockey league can be a challenge for rookie bettors. For example, at the start of 2019, the St. Louis Blues were in last place with odds of +6900 in January. They powered through the playoffs and brought the Cup back to St. Louis. It was their first appearance in the pro hockey championship series in 49 years, and almost no one predicted the outcome.

Like with most things in life, the more you know, the better wagers you can make and that means increasing your chances of a real money win. NHL betting lines will prove to be exciting.

Boxing and mixed martial arts

Junior welterweight boxer Jose Pedraza is punched by Mikkel LesPierre in the boxing ring.

Fight betting provides one of the most high-energy and exhilarating sports experiences in the world. Boxing is one of the most common sports to bet on, and mixed martial arts wagers are now more popular than boxing. These are great sports for both new and seasoned bettors. There are fewer players in the mix and plenty of information and statistics to help you make informed picks.

Even though mixed martial arts (MMA) is a different sport to boxing, betting works in similar ways. If you get on top of your betting choices for MMA (money line, over/under, fight outcome, round and prop betting as well as live betting), you’ll know how to bet on boxing. Find an online sportsbook casino that allows you to do all of your boxing and MMA betting in one location.

Darts

A hand taking darts out of a dart board

In recent years, the traditional pub game of darts has gone international with big prize money, and huge TV audiences tuning in for the major tournaments. If your idea of darts is a few people clustered around a board in a dim corner of a pub, you’ll be surprised at how flash the modern game has become.

These days, a community of talented and flamboyant international players works with the Professional Darts Corporation to raise the profile of the game around the world. The pro darts tournament takes place every year, in November, with all the big players and thousands of fans watching on. 

There are 10 types of darts bets you can place, from match-winner to correct leg score, handicaps, and most 180s.

 Fans watch golf player Paul Casey of England play out of a bunker at the 2019 Australian Open.

This may surprise you, but golf is a definite contender in the betting popularity stakes. In fact, experts believe golf could be the next big thing in the betting market. In recent years,  BetMGM’s New Jersey casino has made a range of betting markets accessible to golf viewers.

The rise in popularity of golf betting has caught the attention of golf insiders who see gambling as a way to increase viewer engagement. If you have money riding on a sport, you’re more likely to watch it, right? More than 70 players competing on a course and a range of possible outcomes give punters some interesting betting odds.  

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.