The United States is a country that loves its sports, with the “Big Four” of football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey by far the most popular games. US sporting contests are also watched by gamblers worldwide, with millions of dollars bet on the outcome of these games. Without further ado, here are the four biggest sports betting events of the year in the US.
The Super Bowl
The February showdown between the winners of the American and National Football Conferences is the second most-watched annual sporting event in the world. It is believed that a staggering $4 billion is wagered on the outcome, and around $132m of this consists of legal bets placed on online betting apps in Nevada. In recent years, the New England Patriots have been the popular choice to bet on given that the team has won five of its seven Super Bowls since the turn of the century. Punters who bet on the Patriots to win in 2016 would have faced huge odds against as late as the third quarter, when Tom Brady’s men trailed the Atlanta Falcons by 25 points. However, the Foxborough franchise turned it around in the Super Bowl’s first-ever period of overtime to become champions. It was later revealed that the Falcons blew a 99 percent chance of winning.
A best-of-seven play-off between the champions of the Eastern and Western conferences, the NBA Finals are designed to crown the basketball champions of the United States. The Boston Celtics hold the record for the most wins, with 17, although the Los Angeles Lakers have appeared in the most finals at 31. In recent years, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers have emerged as the best teams, with stars such as Stephen Curry and LeBron James attracting attention and bets from a global audience.
Baseball is America’s “national sport”, and baseball events don’t come any bigger than the season-ending World Series. In 2016, the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series since 1908, and the bookmakers have them as favorites to repeat that feat next season. MLB has the highest season attendance of any sports league in the world, and the number of games played – each team plays a minimum of 162 games in a season – means there are plenty of opportunities for betting. Baseball is a sport renowned for its love for statistics, which means there are numerous markets on which to place a wager.
As Canada’s national sport and a very popular one in the northern states of the US, ice hockey’s premier spectacle – the Stanley Cup – has millions placed on its outcome each year when it takes place in May and June. As with all US sports, it’s difficult for one team to gain the upper hand over a prolonged period of time, but in recent years, the title has largely been shared between the Chicago Blackhawks, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings.