Whether its track and field, or ice and snow, every true sports fan loves the Olympic Games. Those two weeks or so of non-stop international sporting action are also a punter’s dream, spawning a veritable cornucopia of futures, head-to-heads and props markets across hundreds of events.
How to bet on the Olympic Games
Just like any other form of sports gambling, Olympics betting markets offer all different kinds of odds and specialty wagers. You’ll find all of these basic bet types at our top-ranked Olympic sportsbooks online:
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- To win the gold – This is one of the simplest sports bet you can make. Just pick whichever athlete or team will finish in first place in any given event.
- Futures and outrights – Olympic futures bets can be placed months before the opening ceremony. These could be outright wagers on which nation will top the medal tally, or overs/unders on how many nations will win at least one gold medal, or any other such broad proposition that doesn’t depend on exact match-ups or head-to-head results.
- Props wagers – Proposition bets, or exotics, are those very specific wagers that don’t necessarily rely on the final outcome of an event. You can bet on, say, whether Andy Murray will serve more or less than a certain number of aces in his gold-medal match with Novak Djokovic, or whether the USA will score so many points against Australia in the basketball – almost anything where the match result doesn’t really matter.
- Multibets – Also known as parlay bets or accumulators, a multi combines several different wagers on a single ticket. You can cover any combination of Olympic disciplines and bet types in the one multi. Traditionally, each individual wager (known as a ‘leg’) must win for the multibet to pay out, although nowadays you can sometimes opt to cash out after a certain number of legs.
Summer Olympics betting guide
The Summer Olympiad is widely regarded the most significant sporting event on the calendar. It has been held every four years since its inception in 1896 (interrupted only by the World Wars) and has taken place all over the globe – from Helsinki 1952 to Seoul 1988 and, of course, its ancestral home in Athens, Greece.
What Olympic sports can I bet on?
If not the most prestigious sports tournament on the planet, the Summer Games is without doubt the largest. The 2012 London Olympics, for instance, featured more than 10,000 athletes from 205 countries, competing across 39 disciplines and 302 separate events. Even the FIFA World Cup can’t keep up with those numbers.
That list has expanded to 28 sports for Rio de Janeiro 2016, covering 41 disciplines. They are:
If you can’t put together a solid multi bet with all that going on, then you probably never will.
Top 5 betting markets for the Summer Olympics
While the IOC is always reviewing and altering the Olympic status of certain sports, there are a few untouchables which are part of the very fabric of the Games. These events are not to be missed and provide some of the most intense betting action around, drawing millions and millions of dollars from punters worldwide.
- 100m sprint final – The Olympics’ de facto main event is also one of the shortest. This is what the Games is all about: bringing the world’s fastest men and women together and seeing who can cross the line first.
- Marathon – If the sprints encapsulate the glory and glamour of the Games, then the marathon is the heart and soul. Run over 42 kilometres in the middle of summer, this truly is one of the most gruelling challenges in all of sport.
- 4 x 100m freestyle – The swimming probably ranks second only to the running events in the Olympic pecking order. For sheer edge-of-your-seat entertainment value, the 100-metres freestyle relay can’t be beat.
- Modern pentathlon – This unique event sees some of the world’s finest all-round athletes compete in five diverse disciplines: pistol shooting, epee fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping and cross-country running.
- +105 kg weightlifting – The ancient Greek Olympics were all about feats of strength and technique. These days, they don’t come any more impressive than the top clean-and-jerk category of the men’s weightlifting. You can feel a hernia coming on just watching these guys.
Winter Olympics betting online
While still not as big as its older sibling, the Winter Games are no longer a mere curtain raiser for the Summer Olympics. Their popularity has grown rapidly outside Europe and North America in recent decades, to the point where some 88 nations took part at Sochi 2014 – more than double the number that participated at the famed 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
With just under 100 events over the course of a fortnight or so, the Winter Olympics offer heaps of real money gambling action. Besides getting the chance to watch talented athletes in some of the most demanding disciplines, you can also bet on markets that might not usually be available at online sportsbooks. Honestly, who wouldn’t put a bobsledding leg in their multi-bet when given the chance?
How many sports at the Winter Games?
As of the 2014 Games, the Winter Olympics feature 15 sporting disciplines:
- Alpine skiing
- Cross-country skiing
- Figure skating
- Freestyle skiing
- Ice hockey
- Nordic combined
- Short track skating
- Ski jumping
- Speed skating
Best events at the Winter Olympic Games
- Ice hockey – Ever since the ‘Miracle on Ice’ at Lake Placid in 1980, the Winter Olympics ice hockey has become an absolute must-watch. Heated rivalries between the United States, Canada and Russia make this one of the most hotly contested events in either form of the Games.
- Skeleton – If the luge is dangerous, then the Olympic skeleton events are downright mental. Competitors barrel head-first through a twisting, turning tunnel of ice, all while trying to go as fast as possible.
- Aerial skiing – If you want to see big air and serious technical ability, the Olympic aerials are pretty hard to beat. It’s also a good one for those among us who get a little thrill from watching world-class athletes crash and burn (or freeze, in this case).
- Slopestyle snowboarding – Put a skate park on a BMX track on the side of a mountain, and the result is one of the coolest sports in all of the Olympic Games. Boarders are judged on the height, difficulty and execution of various techniques, including grinds, grabs and flips.
- Curling – This might be the weirdest Olympic event of all. It’s a bit like a hybrid of lawn bowls, shuffleboard and chess, but played on ice rinks using special stones and brooms. At the very least, the strange rules and unique tactics make curling an ideal sport around which to base a Winter Olympics drinking game.