The World Cup is strengthening its grip on the unofficial title of most-watched sports event and also that of most-bet sports event.
Sportsbook projections point to World Cup 2014 betting more than doubling the amount wagered four years ago.
“We expect this to be biggest World Cup ever from a wagering perspective,” said Kevin Bradley, sportsbook manager at Sportsbook. “In terms of how much we will take in, we are projecting will be more than double World Cup 2010.”
With rabid fandom and betting support from around the world, the World Cup dwarfs the Super Bowl both in terms of viewership and betting handle.
While none of the sportsbook managers would comment on exact numbers, the most recent Super Bowl took in $100 million at Nevada sportsbooks alone. General estimates for global wagering 50 times that amount.
And the World Cup will multiply those numbers significantly over the course of the month-long tournament.
Bradley estimates that the World Cup will account for more than 5 percent of the wagering for the entire year, a huge percentage given the popularity of NFL and college football and considering the vast amount of baseball wagers that take place over the course of a seven-month season.
The vast global interest moves the marketing machine into overdrive and online sportsbooks produce hundreds of fun World Cup props and pull out generous bonus specials to try to encourage new bettors to play at their shop.
While Europe and Asia account for a large amount of soccer wagering, it has grown in popularity in North America with the success of the MLS and new TV deals that sees much more soccer on the tube.
“In general, if it’s on TV, people will bet on it, so sportsbooks are booking a lot more soccer handle in the past few years,” said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com.
Sportsbooks seek this influx of new recreational bettors to counter all the heavy-betting professional World Cup bettors.
In cases where books cater to North American audiences, they are cheering against Team USA. Sportsbook reported a huge amount of bets on USA at 100-1 odds.