Olympics Betting Recap: Women’s Sports Fuels Action, US Narrowly Wins Gold Count


The 2020 Olympics, contested a year late in 2021 because of COVID-19, are finally over. 

Olympics betting 2020 Allyson FelixOlympics betting 2020 Allyson Felix
Allyson Felix celebrates after winning bronze in the women’s 400-meter final on August 6, 2021. One major sportsbook said women’s sports during the 2020 Olympics garnered more betting action in the US than men’s competitions. (Image: Getty)

One leading US sportsbook says women’s sports largely generated the betting action over the past two weeks. Australia-based PointsBet is licensed to facilitate sports betting in six US states — Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and New Jersey. And in terms of Olympics betting for its US operations, Jay Croucher, head of trading for PointsBet, says roughly 60 percent of the money wagered was on female athletics. 

Croucher said that the expansion of legal sports betting has led to more Americans becoming familiarized with how odds and different sports wagering lines work. With the May 2018 repeal of the federal ban on sports gambling, legal sports betting is today up and running in 21 states, plus DC. Most of those states permit online sportsbooks.

It’s been great to see that flip from a men’s focus,” Croucher told Sportico in an interview. “This is the first Olympics since there has been legalized online sports betting in the US.

“People have a level of familiarity now,” Croucher added. “People are used to betting on the NFL or NBA. But they’re now … able to bet on new sports.” 

Women’s Sports Leads

Male sports, both professionally and collegiate, greatly dominate sports betting in the US. Approximately 90 percent of the wagers licensed sportsbooks take during a typical year are on games contested by men.

NFL and college football generate the most wagers. Basketball, both NBA and college, the latter highlighted by the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament, trails closely. The MLB also receives considerable action, while the NHL is a distant fourth of the big four in terms of wagering activity.

During the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, however, it was the women who led the betting handle. Sports that received substantial betting includes women’s soccer, swimming, and gymnastics. 

PointsBet revealed that the US women’s soccer team was responsible for 85 percent of the sportsbook’s action on soccer. 

Unfortunately for many bettors, the US women’s soccer squad failed to win gold. Team USA was favored at +110 to win the most prestigious medal, but ended up finishing third with bronze. 

2020 Olympics Betting Recap

Because of the Olympics being contested during the overnight hours when most Americans are sound asleep, PointsBet reported a reduction of live, in-play betting from the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. The sportsbook said bettors more heavily wagered instead on full-game outcomes and medal results.

Prior to the 2020 Olympics, the United States was the heavy favorite to win the most combined gold, silver, and bronze medals at -900. Team USA prevailed by claiming 113 medals, with China a distant second at 88. Bettors who took the -900 odds won just $11.11 for every $100 wagered.

The US was even more favored to depart Japan with the most gold medals. They barely did so by a count of 39-38, also over China. Favored at -1200 to win the most gold, bettors needed to risk $1,200 to win $100. 

The 2020 Olympics will be remembered as the games that were postponed by the pandemic, and then held a year later without fans because of ongoing coronavirus concerns. They’ll also be remembered for Simone Biles’ shocking withdrawal from most of her gymnastics events, including the team and individual all-arounds. 

Numerous sportsbooks refunded bets on Biles in the events that she did not compete. 

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