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A complete Olympics betting guide


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Having been delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 Olympic Games are finally upon us. Taking place in Tokyo, Japan, the 16-day event kicks off on July 23 with over 200 countries set to be represented by roughly 11,000 athletes.

From boxing to gymnastics, shotput to the 100m sprint, there are a plethora of sports and events that will determine which country wins the most medals and tops the Tokyo 2020 leader board.

Photo by Louie Martinez on Unsplash

This means there are countless ways you can get involved in Olympic betting if you are interested. There are markets on specific events, as well as the final medal table, but with so many events and athletes, it can get quite confusing.

So, this guide will break down the main betting options for Tokyo 2020 and explain how they all work.

The most common type of bet placed on the Olympics is wagering on which country will sit atop the medals table once all the events have been completed. This is commonly referred to as futures betting, as you’re gambling on an outcome that is still a few weeks away.

Sportsbooks like DraftKings will be offering odds for each country entered in the Olympics in relation to a few different factors. Some might provide odds for which country will be number one in the table, which considers all medals won.

Another option is to bet on which country will win the most gold medals throughout the competition. For example, the USA are favourites to take home the most gold at odds of roughly -750. This means you would need to wager $750 in order to win $100. Favourites are always indicated by the ‘-’ in front of their odds.

China are second favourites to top the gold medals tally, with odds of +550 on offer at most bookmakers. This means you would win $550 if you wagered $100.

It’s worth noting that though these odds relate to totals of $100, this isn’t the amount you have to bet. Odds work on ratios, so they just represent potential winnings from a baseline amount.

When it comes to medal hauls for each country, there are also over/under bets. Here, bookmakers will outline a certain number of medals for each country and offer odds on whether or not they will win more (over) or less (under) than that figure.

For example, the USA are priced at odds of +120 to win over 113.5 medals, and odds of -167 to win under that. So, if they were to claim 114 medals in total and you wagered $10 on the over, you would win a profit of $12. However, if they took 113 medals or less, you would lose your bet.

Some betting companies also offer head-to-head odds for total medals won, where they couple two countries together and provide odds relating to which one will win the most. Great Britain, for example, might be priced as favourites of -120 against Japan, who have odds of +110.

You can also bet on individual events or sports, and these are known as money line bets. For sports like tennis or basketball, medals are won through a tournament format, where each player or team will need to win numerous matches in order to claim the gold medal.

So, bookmakers offer odds for every player or team involved in that sport relating to their chances of winning the tournament. In men’s tennis, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is the -112 favourite to win gold while Russia’s Daniil Medvedev is second behind him at +300.

All you do is choose the player or team you think will win gold and put money on them, with their odds determining how much you’ll win should they succeed.

Similarly, you can bet on individual matches within sports or events. If Belgium were to play Sweden in men’s soccer, for example, you might see odds of -200 for the former and +210 for the latter to win that single game. These are generally seen as safer bets because you’re only betting on one outcome, rather than multiple.

If you are interested in gambling on individual matches, you could also consider points spread bets. These are most common in team sports, and bookmakers will set a points baseline between the two teams and offer appropriate odds. For example, the USA might have odds of -250 for +7.5 points in a men’s basketball game against France, who are priced at +400 for -7.5 points.

What this means is that if you were to bet on the USA here, they would need to win the match by eight points or more for your wager to be successful. Likewise, if you bet on France, they would have to win outright or lose by a maximum of seven points for your bet to come in.

So, with Tokyo 2020 around the corner, hopefully this guide has helped explain the various different ways you can place bets on the event. From money line odds to total medal hauls, there are a wide range of ways you can try and win money from the Olympics.