Beijing Winter Olympics

  • This year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing is expected to be the most-bet Olympics ever, with 30 states now offering at least some sort of state-regulated sports betting.
  • There are some potential obstacles in the way, however – there have been over 100 reported COVID cases, the NHL is not participating, and potential protests could hurt betting handles.

BEIJING, China – With 30 states offering state-regulated sports betting of some type and 19 offering online sports betting, this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing is expected to shatter the previous records for Olympic sports betting handle.

Mobile Sportsbooks Could Push Olympic Betting To New Heights

Bill Krackomberger, a professional sports bettor and founder of KrackWins, says the increased availability of mobile sportsbooks has led to an increased interest in sports betting among the general population.

“It will be the most-bet Olympics ever,” said Krackomberger in an interview with Forbes.

DraftKings’ Director of Racebook and Sportsbook Operations Johnny Avello told Forbes that his company still considers betting on the Olympics to be a novelty, considering this will be just the third time the sportsbook will offer betting odds on Olympic events. Despite this, Avello agrees with Krackomberger’s sentiment that this will be the most-bet Olympics to date, saying:

“It will be a record this year… there’s more events, more people are aware they can bet, and now there are 18 different jurisdictions to place a wager,” said Avello.

Nevada Sportsbooks Look To Play Catch-Up

Nevada’s sportsbooks similarly view betting on the Olympics to be a novelty; however, they are also considering it a new opportunity to bring in revenue. Until 2016, it was illegal to wager on the Olympics in Nevada, and it was illegal everywhere except for Nevada until 2018.

This new opportunity for the sportsbooks could lead to huge revenue potential. According to the American Gambling Association, 20 million Americans planned on placing a wager on at least one event of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The increased availability and awareness of legal sports betting should cause that number to increase significantly for this year’s games.

Many believe the week-long period without NFL games leading up to the Super Bowl will also boost the level of Olympic betting.

“It’s a significant event, people are interested and they’re passionate about their country… we’re looking for a good handle, not a superior handle, but it’s lucky it’s happening before the Super Bowl and there’s not a full menu of other sports games,” said Duane Colucci sports manager for the Rampart Casino in Las Vegas

External Factors Could Limit Ceiling

Some external factors may limit the betting handle from reaching spectacular levels, however.

Hockey, one of the most popular Winter Olympic events, will go without NHL players this go-around, severely limiting the appeal to casual viewers. China’s zero-tolerance COVID policy could also harm the events, as there have already been 119 COVID cases in the Olympic Village, according to a Reuters report.

There is also a chance that certain athletes representing the United States or other western nations withdraw from the events in response to China’s human rights violations, which could potentially extend to a viewer boycott. This would be bad news for sportsbooks, but so far, no athletes have gone public with plans to protest, and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urged athletes this week to avoid protesting against the Chinese,

“I would say to our athletes: You’re there to compete. Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government because they are ruthless… I know there is a temptation on the part of some to speak out while they are there,” said Pelosi “I respect that, but I also worry about what the Chinese government might do to their reputations and to their families.”

Despite these possibilities, the Olympics will certainly provide bettors with something to tide them over until they bet on the Super Bowl, and the events should serve to bolster sportsbooks’ bottom lines during a relatively down period for sports betting.

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