GAMBLING FOR GOLD
The Craziest Gambling Bets To Place On the Rio 2016 Olympics
For the first time in 18 years, gamblers can place money on the Olympic Games—and some of the bets are as weird as the debris floating in Rio’s polluted rivers.
Wanna make 50 bucks the hard way?
Bet that the Rugby Sevens competition at the Olympics in Rio will be canceled because they run out of rugby balls. At one sports book in Australia, you can do just that at 51 to 1 odds.
That bet has the same exact odds as Germany winning the most golds at the 2016 games. It’s the same chance as Rio running out of “gas for the Olympic flame,” too.
At least you can wager on just how much of a mess it is.
For the first time in 18 years, you can place a bet on such Malaysian badminton superstars as Lee Chong Wei without having to leave Las Vegas. (He’s 2 to 1.)
In February, Nevada quietly amended its ban on amateur sports betting to make an exception for the Olympics. The no-amateur betting carve-out had been in place since 1998. Sports books like William Hill were quick to put up some odds shortly after the decision to allow it.
Ever since, they’ve been taking action on everything from USA basketball to the 4x100 meter relay. It turns out there are lot of experts in America on, say, the men’s 200 meter.
“Leading up to the Olympics, there are meets on TV pretty much every weekend, so there’s a lot of volatility with whoever just won last week’s meet,” said William Hill’s Adam Pullen. “It’s been pretty surprising. There are people that follow it, and they pay more attention than we do.”
Pullen has the unenviable task of laying odds on some of these preposterously narrow and specific events for William Hill. He says he looks at markets overseas that book the qualifiers all throughout the year. “I wish I could tell you I’m an expert, but there’s just too much information to dig through,” he said.
He hopes he has a lot of it right. Specifically women’s soccer.
“(Betting) is picking up in the last few days. ‘Will the Americans win women’s soccer?’ —people betting on them to win the gold medal—is the biggest liability we have right now.” Most markets have Team USA at about 6/5 odds.
William Hill’s Director of Trading Nick Bogdanovich expects that “95 percent of trading is still to come—or maybe even higher.” Mostly because, he says, he’s not sure most people in Vegas know you can bet on the Games this time around.
“Once people start watching it on TV, see the preliminary rounds, get used to the time difference, see Usain Bolt, the men’s basketball team—I think the majority of the action is going to come then,” he said.
He thinks, total, the Games will bring in the equivalent of a weekend of college and NFL football games combined.
And it helps that there are some bets out there that make rooting for your country to absolutely disembowel another country—like if Team USA basketball will beat France by 20-plus points—potentially very profitable.
Still, Pullen says this will serve as more or less a trial run for the South Korean Winter Games in two years.
“This is new. I’ve never booked odds on the Olympics,” he said. “We’re taking it all in and learning for the future.”
Get ready to throw down millions on curling, Americans. But first, practice with some badminton. You will not believe the kind of odds you can get on Ratchanok Intanon.