How Brits will bet on the Olympics

Oliver RoweGlobal Sector Head ‑ Leisure & Entertainment
July 05, 2021, 1:15 PM UTC

The Olympics is the biggest event in sport and therefore one of the biggest for the gambling industry. 

A new YouGov survey regarding gambling intentions shows nearly one in ten (9%) British adults plan to place a bet of some kind on the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, scheduled to begin July 23. Younger Brits — aged between 18-24 (15%) and 25-39 (12%) — are most likely to ramp up the excitement of the Games with a wager. 

YouGov Direct polled 1,500 UK adults online on June 9 and the overall sample is nationally representative.  

As mobile betting continues its assent, three-quarters (75%) of likely Olympics punters say they plan to place their bets via an online sportsbook, while 25% say they will place in-person bets. A little more than one in ten (11%) also plan to place casual bets with friends, family or colleagues. 

Nearly half of betters (45%) will place money on individual matches or events and a quarter (25%) will wager on medal counts. Some British punters will place accumulator or parlay bets (16%), spread bets (13%) and prop/spot bets (8%). About one in ten (11%) will place Olympic future bets (prior to the start of the Games). 

The rise of online betting has brought with it a massive appetite for live wagers – 34% of Brits who plan to put some money down on the Games intend to make in-play or live wagers, such as betting on when the next goal will be scored during a football match. Of course, live betting may not be a viable option in the ten-second-long 100-meter dash, which is likely to be among the most popular events on which betters will place wagers. We do however expect in-play bets to be popular in team matches, such as football, volleyball and basketball.  

Punters appear to be most likely to bet on events such as track and field (49%), football (49%), boxing (31%), tennis (28%), and gymnastics (20%). Other events that will draw gamblers include swimming (18%), basketball (15%), cycling (15%), badminton (8%), diving (7%), weightlifting (6%), table tennis (6%) and volleyball or beach volleyball (6%), archery (3%) and baseball (3%). 

For marketers looking to reach this audience, Brits also told us what they’ll likely be doing while watching the Games. About a third (35%) say they’ll be on gambling sites to check odds, place bets or cash out; roughly a quarter (27%) will be chatting on social media (27%) or searching for player and athlete details (25%); and one in five (20%) will be on a gambling site to play other games. One in five (19%) will likely be working during a game or event. 

Meanwhile it’s worth noting that in the US – where gambling laws have shifted dramatically since the last Olympic Games as a result of a 2018 Supreme Court ruling – 9% of adults are likely to place a bet on the upcoming Games in Tokyo. 

For the betting industry, 2021 is shaping up to be a year of growth, thanks to a rise in the number of gamblers during COVID-19 lockdown. As the UK emerges from lockdown measures, they have been greeted with two of the biggest sporting events on the planet – The Euros and the Olympics. 

Let the games begin.