Sport Sporting festivals

Cashing in on gold: betting on the Olympics

Written by Chrsitian Newbold

This article first appeared in the Jul/Aug 2012 issue of World Gaming magazine.

Cash in on your nation’s sporting prowess with our Olympic betting guide.

You might think the Olympics offer a buffet-style sports betting experience. Unfortunately this is not the case – the Olympics may be a grand affair but is not really the ideal event to bet on.

While a huge global sporting event like the Olympics attracts worldwide interest and millions of viewers, when it comes to sports betting it’s not even in the same ball park (if you will pardon the pun) as something like the FIFA World Cup. Yes, there is a hell of a lot of sport crammed into a little over two weeks, but many of the events will attract little or no betting interest.

For a sport to be good to wager on you need two things: a lot of interested bettors and bookmakers who are willing to accept bets. Even with online betting exchanges there is little action unless people are willing to back and lay bets that punters want to place. Many Olympic sports are obscure and only attract attention every four years. This scares bookmakers because they are unable to find enough information to create a viable book.

You will probably find some large international bookmakers offering many markets, and while there will also be many markets listed on exchanges you will only be able to wager small amounts on anything other than the most popular events.


There are several reputable online sports betting websites offering great odds on many of the more mainstream sports. are offering a “special” on the UK’s finest ever distance runner, Mo Farah, to win both the men’s 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters at this year’s London Olympics with odds being a potentially lucrative 7/1.

Whilst most of the odds currently being offered are centered on the athletics many sports books are offering “specials” on various non-eventspecific parts of the Games. For example, a popular bet being offered by is “Who will light the Olympic flame?” with the most popular choices being:

A team sport like football is a good choice and whilst Brazil are currently 9/4 favorites, Spain and the UK are excellent choices at 11/4 and 11/2 respectively. You can also bet on the winner of the group stages and teams like Japan (6/1) and Mexico (6/4) are good outside bets here.

Some sports will offer fantastic betting. The athletics and the swimming will definitely offer markets on finals. A lot of the time this will pit the favorite against the field in a two-way market. This means your bet becomes a simple yes or no proposition, for example, “Will Usain Bolt win the 100 meter final or not?”

There will also be good betting on most of the team sports. Football, handball, hockey and volleyball should offer good betting prospects. The tennis will also offer decent markets – look for some upsets here as the Olympics usually throws up surprises.

Some of the best markets are on which countries will win the most medals or country head-to-head betting. These can be great to bet on and they add extra excitement for the whole duration of the Games. Good luck and here’s hoping you back a winner.