20.5M Americans Will Bet $1.8B on World Cup (But Not on Qatar Vs Ecuador)

By | November 17, 2022

Some 20.5 million Americans are expected to place at least one bet on the FIFA World Cup, which kicks off Sunday. That’s 8% of the adult population.

World Cup
Christian Pulisic, above, is one of the bright hopes of American soccer, and millions of Americans will be backing him and his teammates when the World Cup kicks off Sunday, according to the AGA. (Image: MLS Soccer)

The American Gaming Association (AGA) predicts that those eight-percenters will fork out a collective $1.8 billion wagering on the tournament, which is the most bet-upon event globally.

That’s an average spend of $87.80 each. Although how many will risk their hard-earned on the damp squib of an opener, Qatar versus Ecuador, remains to be seen.

They’re far more likely to take a patriotic gamble on USA’s first game against Wales. It’s a game the team should win and are +150 to do so.

For perspective, the AGA estimates that Americans wagered $7.6 billion on last year’s Super Bowl, which is one game, as opposed to 64.

Post-PASPA World Cup

What is clear is this is the first World Cup where many Americans will have the opportunity to bet legally. The last one kicked off in Russia in June 2018, just one month after the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA, the federal prohibition on sports betting.

In the ensuing years, 28 states have regulated and licensed wagering on sports, bringing the total to 31 (three had legal betting predating PASPA).

Today, legal wagering is available to 132 million Americans in their home states, compared to only 10 million during the 2018 World Cup.

As the first World Cup with widespread availability of legal sports betting, this will certainly be the most bet-upon soccer event ever in the US,” said AGA Senior Vice President Casey Clark.

With more than half of all American adults having access to legal betting options in their home market, legal sports betting will deepen American fan engagement in the most-watched sporting event in the world,” he added.

Opportunities to gamble aside, the figures also highlight that Americans are increasingly embracing a sport that was once derided for its low-scores, flip-flopping players, and the mind-numbing possibility that a game might end in a draw.

Or at least a growing portion of Americans are embracing it. To the rest, those barriers still apply.

Spirit of ’14

American interest in the World Cup perhaps peaked in 2014. That was thanks to a gritty run into the Round of 16 by a team that simply refused believe in its own limitations. Belgium, currently ranked at number two in the world by FIFA, needed extra time to beat a team brimming with courage and spirit.

In 2018, American interest flatlined because the US National Team failed to qualify for the tournament.

The team struggled in the group stage to qualify for this World Cup, too. But coach Gregg Berhalter has since opted for an injection of youth, and there is some real creativity in its forward line, with Pulisic, Reyna, and Aaronson.

This team is very capable of progressing into the Round of 16. But the odds of it winning the World Cup are a frosty +100,000.

Still, stranger things have happened. And 24% of those surveyed by the AGA said they would put their money on it.

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