Around 20.5 million Americans are expected to bet on the outcome of this year’s FIFA World Cup as legalized sports betting continues to flourish across the country.
Stakes are expected to reach $1.8 billion, according to an estimate by the American Gaming Association released this week. Most people place their bets online or in person, as opposed to a bookmaker. American bettors give Argentina, Brazil or the United States the best chance of winning it all, the federation said.
The football tournament begins this Sunday and comes at a time when 31 states and Washington, DC have legalized online sports betting. That’s compared to three states with legalization in 2018 – the last time the World Cup was held.
More states with legal wagering means this year’s World Cup will be the highest-wagering soccer event in US history, said Casey Clark, the association’s senior vice president.
“With more than half of all American adults having access to legal betting options in their home market, legal sports betting will deepen American fans’ engagement with the world’s most-watched sporting event,” added Clark.
Football betting far behind other sports
The World Cup estimate pales in comparison to other major sporting events this year — particularly theor the March Madness Tournament.
States began legalizing online sports betting three years ago after aAs of 2018, federal law was enacted banning gambling in football, basketball, baseball, and other sports. States where sports betting is legal have reported millions of dollars in additional tax revenue, according to gambling associations. Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings and FanDuel have also become big winners in the sports betting explosion.
Caesars gave Brazil the top odds for the tournament at +400, followed by Argentina at +550 and defending champions France at +650.
A mini-controversy has overshadowed much of the World Cup hype this week after FIFA officials announced itwill host the games. The Muslim country is considered very conservative and strictly regulates the sale and consumption of alcohol.
The decision angered fans, in part because Qatar said in September it would allow ticketed fans to buy alcoholic beer at World Cup soccer matches three hours before kick-off and one hour after the final whistle.