Summer Olympic Games Betting Will Have Worldwide Appeal

Olympic Games betting never has enjoyed the action of a World Cup, a Wimbledon, an NBA Championship or a World Series, but the inclusion of soccer, tennis, basketball and baseball, not to mention dozens of other sports popular in different parts of the globe, should ensure that the bi-annual five-ring circus, which gets underway in Beijing, August 8, will keep both bet makers and takers hopping.

Back in April, few sportsbooks had as many as a dozen propositions listed for Olympic Games betting. Now, the menu has swollen to as much as 10 times that total with new competitions added every day.

Perhaps the most popular Olympics betting pursuit is wagering on which nation will secure the most total medals and Gold Medals. Host China heads the list, followed by the United States and Russia:

Country   Total Medals   Gold Medals   Silver Medals   Bronze Medals

China                       3/5                  1/2                Even                    3/2

USA                         6/5                  3/2                  7/5                    8/5

Russia                    25/1                33/1                 20/1                    5/1

Other                    100/1              100/1                 25/1                  20/1

Some sportsbooks also are offering wagering on which nation, other than China, the United States and Russia, will earn the most Gold Medals. Here it’s Australia, which figures to do well in the pool, which is the 11/10 favorite. Germany, at odds of 9/5, comes next with Japan (15/2), Italy (8/1), Cuba (8/1) and France (9/1) also in contention.

The aforementioned soccer, tennis, basketball and, to a somewhat lesser extent, baseball, also should enjoy good betting action.

Argentina (2/1), Brazil (5/2), Italy (6/1) and The Netherlands (8/1) are the main contenders to win gold in men’s soccer with Germany (2/1) a slight choice over the USA (5/2) and Brazil (11/4) to top the medal stand on the women’s side.

Roger Federer (11/8) is a slight favorite to avenge losses to Rafael Nadal 9/4) at the French Open and Wimbledon but Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic (10/3) also is in the mix for a men’s tennis Gold Medal. Eight time Major winner Serena Williams and French Open champion Ana Ivanovic are 7/2 co-favorites for gold on the women’s side with Australian Open winner Maria Sharapova (4/1) and Wimbledon champ Venus Williams (9/2) close behind.

Team USA is 4/11 to earn gold in men’s basketball with Spain, at odds of 7/2, most likely to spring an upset. The American women are an even more impressive 1/4 to cop gold with Australia (9/2) viewed as the main opposition.

Cuba (2/3) is odds on to beat the USA (2/1) and Japan (9/2) for gold in baseball while Team USA is an overwhelming 1/6 favorite to prevail in softball, the female equivalent to baseball.

Track and Field, or athletics, as it’s called outside the USA, also is popular among the Olympic betting throng, particularly the 100 meters, which earns the winner the title of “World’s Fastest Human.” World record (9.72) holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica is a narrow 7/5 favorite over the USA Tyson Gay (3/2), who ran a wind-aided 9.68. Asafa Powell, also of Jamaica, and a former world record holder at 9.74, is offered at odds of 7/2.

If swimming is your thing, there are more than two dozen events listed and that does not even count a proposition on whether American Michael Phelps, who will swim in eight events, will break Mark Spitz’s record of seven Gold Medals. Phelps won six gold and two bronze in Athens in 2004.

Gamblers looking for a bit more diversity also can wager on sports such as badminton, equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, handball, field hockey, rowing, sailing, table tennis, volleyball and water polo.

What’s more, as the Games draw nearer, you can expect mischievous bet takers to offer odds on such items as the number of positive drug tests and which sport (think weight lifting) will be the first to elicit a disqualification.

Given the wide range of sports-—some far more familiar than others—as well as blanket coverage by NBC and its many sister stations, Olympic Games betting should be the perfect venue for just about every gambler.