July 21, 2024

Sports betting meets Paris Olympics

The booming era of legal sports betting will collide with the pinnacle of international athletics when the 2024 Paris Olympics gets underway at the end of the month.

Sports betting is legal in 38 states and Washington D.C., with 34 of them affording the sportsbooks the opportunity to provide betting lines on the upcoming Olympic games. 

Americans’ commitment to supporting their country on the biggest stage

The competition is sure to inspire gaudy television numbers and betting totals, if the 2022 World Cup was any indication of Americans’ commitment to supporting their country on the biggest stage.

But as the best athletes in the world come together, one group of competitors will hope that the Paris Olympics, combined with the momentum gathered by sports betting, will change the course of their sport forever.

Down the pecking order

Track and field is athleticism in its purest form.

Is there technical beauty in figure skating? Power and agility in boxing? Endurance and skill in soccer? 

The answer to these questions is yes, of course there is. But the simple standards of who runs the fastest and who jumps the highest are settled on the track.

often the most gripping time of the Olympics

Track and field has provided some of the brightest moments in recent Olympic memory. Whether it be Usain Bolt winning three gold medals in three straight Olympics in 2008, 2012, and 2016, or Mo Farah defending his home track in London with Golds in 5,000- and 10,000-meter run in London 2012, the test of wits between international speedsters is often the most gripping time of the Olympics.

Despite this, track and field is far from a lucrative pursuit for most professionals. ZipRecruiter says the average income of a male professional track and field runner is $41,871, or $14.38 per hour using a standard 40-hour work week.

Numerous track and field athletes at the Paris Olympics are also going without being signed to sponsorship deals.  

Dylan Beard, who ran the Olympic qualifying standard in the 110-meter hurdles earlier this year, is a full-time Walmart employee who had to purchase his own jersey and travel accommodations just to compete at the Olympic trials.

His reality is, unfortunately, fairly common amongst professional track and field athletes. That’s why these Olympics in particular are so important.

Paris Olympics, sports betting, and track and field 

Sports betting completely transformed the sports and entertainment industries in America. Americans have already gambled more than $225bn since sports betting was legalized federally in the middle of 2018, and that total is quickly becoming outdated as more states open their arms to the pastime.

Sportsbooks offer betting odds on all of the major sporting events and leagues, such as the NFL, NBA, and MLB. They also provide betting lines on a range of college events, tennis, ping pong, cornhole, water polo, and much more.

The wide array of betting lines largely ends when it comes to running. Sportsbooks do not typically offer betting odds for competitions such as the Diamond League (a circuit that hosts meets all over the world), the NCAA Championships, or the Boston Marathon.

Boston-headquartered DraftKings made an effort earlier this year to offer betting odds for the city’s namesake Marathon, but was denied by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Former world record holder in the 200- and 400-meter, Michael Johnson, launched a new track league called “Grand Slam Track” in June to help generate more interest for the sport. Johnson’s league will have roughly 100 of the top performers in various disciplines compete four times per year for a share of $12.6m in prizes during the first year.

If there’s anything to be taken from the Caitlin Clark phenomenon, it’s that sports betting will drive visibility. That brings us back to our main point regarding sports betting at the Paris Olympics…

Gaining a larger following

Despite track and field mostly being unavailable to bet on, sportsbooks are offering betting odds for the Olympics. And yes, that includes Olympic track and field.

To put a bow on the Clark topic, WNBA All-Star Game voting revealed that Clark, the top vote-getter, received 700,735 votes. Clark’s teammate and reigning Rookie of the Year, Aliyah Boston, got 618,680 votes, the second-most.

Compare that to last year’s most-voted player, A’ja Wilson, who only managed 95,860, and the difference is astounding.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics averaged 15.5 million primetime viewers, though that number was impacted by the COVID pandemic. The 2016 Rio Olympics averaged 27.5 million and the 2012 London Olympics averaged 31.1 million live primetime viewers.

an awful lot of would-be sports bettors tuned into the Paris Olympics

It’s reasonable to expect close to, if not more than, 20 million average live viewers when the next Olympics begin later in July. That’s an awful lot of would-be sports bettors tuned into the Paris Olympics, and in turn, track and field.

The performance of the sport will ultimately dictate bookmaker’s level of interest in campaigning for the addition of track and field betting odds in state markets. But with sports mostly being in a dead period, this is one of track and field’s golden opportunities to get a foothold with a larger and long-term audience.

The post Paris Olympics Sports Betting to Popularize Track and Field? appeared first on Vegas Slots Online News.

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