Gambling group estimates US will bet $1.8B on World Cup

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Americans will bet $1.8 billion on the World Cup this year, the first to be held while legal sports betting is widespread in the U.S., according to the casino industry’s national trade group.

About 20.5 million American adults plan to bet on the biggest soccer tournament in the world, legally or otherwise, the American Gaming Association estimated Tuesday. The majority plan to place bets online, with a bookie or at a physical sportsbook.

The survey is the organization’s first for World Cup betting.

Thirty-one states plus Washington, D.C., currently offer legal sports betting, with five additional markets due to begin soon.

“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 U.S.,” said Casey Clark, the group’s senior vice president. “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.”

Legal wagering is currently available to 132 million Americans in their home states. That is up dramatically from the 2018 World Cup, when only 10 million had access to it in just three states.

That was the year New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case clearing the way for all 50 states to offer legal sports betting if they so choose.

The survey asked respondents what they would bet on if they were given $50 to make a wager on the winner of the tournament. The results were: United States (24%); Brazil (19%); Argentina (17%) and Germany (10%).

It also shows plenty of room for growth in terms of betting on the World Cup. Less than 3 in 10 Americans who plan to watch the tournament say they will bet on it.

The tournament begins Nov. 20 with host nation Qatar taking on Ecuador. The U.S. has its first game the next day against Wales.

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