A beginner’s guide: The top sports to place a bet on

Sports betting is big, and we’re not just saying this. It really is. Take 2019. The worldwide market size of sports betting and lottery was more than 200 billion US dollars, according to the market and consumer data company Statista. That year, total sports betting revenue hit 908.9 million dollars in the US alone, with citizens enjoying the new-found freedom to bet on sports events following the US Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that enabled states to legalize sports betting if they wish. Meanwhile, in Macau in 2019, the gross revenue from just the football sports lottery totaled 534 million Macanese patacas.

Fostering a love of sports betting across the world

Of course, you can be just about anywhere in the world and catch a major sporting event. It could the Super Bowl. It could be British soccer’s Emirates FA Cup. It could be a Grand Prix. You name it and, no matter where you are, you’ll be able to tune into it somehow and since gambling and sport go hand in hand, sports betting has grown worldwide. 

Sports betting and the UK

If one nation loves sports betting, it’s the UK. Betting on horse races is a particular passion of the Brits. Data from Statista shows that in 2020, off-course betting revenue hit 7.6 billion GBP and on-course sports betting revenue reached 198.28 million GBP. Quite a lot considering sports had been cancelled for a number of months due to COVID-19.

Citizens in the US have also been illustrating their sizable appetite for gambling. In March 2021, $4 billion was bet on US sportsbooks, as a lot of states have warmed to the legalizations of sports betting. Some have been quick to adopt it and enable sports betting operators to get up and running, whereas others are still in earlier stages of creating or implementing legislation. Very few have rejected sports betting altogether.

Taking your pick

If you’re a big fan of betting and like to place your money on lots of different sports, the world’s your oyster. Today, you can just about bet on anything, but some sports are much more popular than others with bettors. 

In the US, for instance, American football is the most popular sport for betting, whereas in Italy, people bet more on the soccer. Over in the UK, the horse racing attracts the most bets, with the soccer in hot pursuit. Regional preferences are everything. 

Making the most of mobile

And the arrival of mobile has made it all so much easier, by sparing punters a walk into a brick-and-mortar betting establishment to place their wager. Instead, they can create an account at an online sportsbook, log in and make their bet on the phone. It’s also something they can do at their convenience, rather than have to wait for a sportsbook to open or place their bet by the time it closes. 

Not that the players should just place their bets on the first sportsbook that pops up in Google searches. There’s lots of competition between operators, so it pays to scour the internet and browse the promotions that the big operators offer. Some will offer welcome bonuses like 888, who are currently offering a £30 welcome bonus for new punters who wager £10, giving you some extra money to lay down on events.

Popular sports for betting on

As well as soccer, horse racing and American football, there are plenty of other sports which attract a lot of attention from bettors:


Some argue there’s no better sport in the world for betting than boxing. They also argue the sport was created purely for the purpose of betting, and that back in the early (and brutal) bare-knuckle days of boxing, a large part of the revenue from the fights came from the betting “action” itself.

The sportsbooks can take some of the credit for this popularity, too, though because they offer unique short-term promotions when it comes to betting on boxing. Features such as the opportunity to cash out bets also endear betting on boxing to bettors.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) 

Another sport which bettors are passionate about wagering on is mixed martial arts (MMA). The reason is that fans of the sport may be able to take advantage of their potentially greater knowledge of it than the sportsbooks. Anyone who has studied the undercard fighters can exploit this edge and make some big money.


Soccer is huge. People from all across the world follow the soccer and place bets on leagues such as the English Premier League. The league reported a cumulative global audience of 3.2 billion for all programming watched between August 2018 and May 2019, as Manchester City and Liverpool fiercely contested the league title. New free-to-air coverage in several countries, such as Brazil and South Africa, drove growth, and there was also an increase in live audiences in the UK.

But it’s not only men’s soccer that captures the viewers.  FIFA reported that more than 1 billion people followed the women’s World Cup in 2019. More than 260 million people viewed the final. 

Sports betting is on the rise, as people make the most of being able to follow some of the most amazing sports events on the planet and, at the same time, inject extra excitement for themselves into the proceedings. It won’t be long before leagues such as the Premier League and the NFL start, giving fans to see if they know as much as they think they do about sports and, hopefully, win a little money. 

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