Sports betting is huge in the USA and it enjoys far more widespread legality compared to online casinos. While online casinos are only available in a handful of states (CT, MI, NJ, PA and WV), sports betting is available almost everywhere.
But which sports do US citizens love to bet on? This is an incredibly interesting subject, and it may not be as black and white as you think. Of course, the top three picks are usually American football, basketball and baseball, but there are some wildcards you may not expect!
This is what we take a look at below, as we delve into the world of US sports betting to find out which genres remain the most popular and generally rake in the most money at US sportsbooks.
American football – NFL and NCAA
Of course, the top pick is American football – did you expect anything different? This sport is the darling of the USA and is beloved by a huge portion of the population. The National Football League is a multibillion-dollar industry and is the most watched sporting league in the country, next to the NBA.
Teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have become iconic in the country, and you can always find people placing bets on their favorite teams when the new season rolls around. It’s not just the NFL, though, and NCAA college football is just as popular at sportsbooks.
Basketball – NBA and NCAA
We couldn’t give second place to anything else other than basketball, either. Next to the NFL, the NBA is easily the next biggest sporting competition in the country. It’s our favorite sport too and at the time of writing this, we are watching the pre-season games and eagerly awaiting the start of the 23-24 NBA season!
Basketball is a hugely popular sport in the USA and as we saw with the recent FIBA World Cup, it’s gaining popularity in Europe too. Regardless, the NBA is generally seen as the best basketball league in the world and US citizens love to place bets on their favorite teams, trying to predict who will make the playoffs and ultimately win the chip.
Baseball – MLB
Baseball typically completes the trifecta of US sports betting and is usually seen as the third most popular sport in the country, behind American football and basketball. Like American football, baseball is largely a US sport and outside the country, it doesn’t really have a big following.
This doesn’t stop US citizens from going crazy when the new season starts, jumping onto sports betting sites to make wagers for their favorite teams.
Soccer – MLS, European football
Soccer or football is continually gaining traction in the US, and this has been helped by the migration of European stars like Lionel Messi to the MLS league. The MLS is still growing, but compared to years ago, its popularity has sky-rocketed and teams such as Inter Miami, LAFC and FC Cincinnati have a large following.
While the MLS is popular for sports betting in the US, people love to follow and bet on football in Europe too, in competitions like the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and French Ligue 1. Football betting perhaps offers the most in terms of versatility and you can even bet on things like the number of corners in a match!
Ice hockey – NHL
Yes, we know that ice hockey is more of a Canadian sport but Americans love it too, and the NHL remains one of the most popular sports. Traditionally, it ranks behind the NFL, NBA and MLB, and in recent times, data shows that MLS is becoming more popular.
Regardless, Americans still love to bet on NHL games and try to predict the winner of the Stanley Cup each season. Currently, the NHL is composed of 32 teams – 25 from the US and seven from Canada, and the 2022-23 season winners were the Colorado Avalanche.
There is something about the high-octane, adrenaline-filled action of ice hockey games that make them spectacular to watch, and we love it when a brawl breaks out and the players go at it! In terms of sports betting, you can bet on anything from individual match results to top scorers and victory margins, or total goals scored, for example.
Horse racing has been popular in the US for decades and it continues to be so. This is reflected in the different horse racing betting sites available, and it’s easily one of the most popular sports that US citizens bet on. However, this can vary from state to state and there are arguably some states that feature more prominently in the horse racing scene.
The US has a range of iconic annual races, including the Kentucky Derby, Breeders’ Cup, Belmont Stakes and Churchill Downs – these draw epic crowds and always pull in the bets at sportsbooks and dedicated horse racing betting sites.
Motorsports – NASCAR
NASCAR could arguably be higher in this list as it has an immense following in the US and is one of the largest spectator sports in the country. However, we feel that this is more of a specialist sport and you either love it or hate it. We don’t see the attraction, but millions of fans would call us stupid!
A number of races take place throughout the NASCAR season, including the Coke Zero Sugar 400, Hollywood Casino 400, Bass Pro Shops Night Race and the Bank of America Roval 400. 2023 also marks the sport’s 75th anniversary, so we can expect even more betting action than usual!
Over the course of a NASCAR season, there are typically 36 races and the most iconic is, of course, the Daytona 500, which draws the biggest crowds. The winner used to have their car put on display at the Daytona 500 experience, which has since been changed to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Esports – LoL, DOTA 2, CS:GO
Esports you say? But that’s not a proper sport! Many would dispute that statement, and the popularity of esports in the USA and worldwide would prove otherwise too! In general, the esports industry is booming and there is so much money and potential involved.
Where years ago, people did it for fun, we now have fully managed esports teams that have sponsors and do intense training to get in shape for tournaments! Games such as League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have some epic competitions with huge prize pools, and this has led to the rise of sportsbooks offering esports betting. It’s something the US public loves.
Sports betting remains a popular pastime for US citizens
Did any of these sports betting options surprise you? We don’t think that the top three picks would shock anyone, as basketball, baseball and American football are known to be huge in the USA, but maybe people wouldn’t have thought soccer would come in so high?
Esports is undoubtedly one that people didn’t expect either, but this industry is booming and sportsbooks are embracing it wholeheartedly. There are, of course, other sports like boxing, MMA, golf and volleyball that are extremely popular but didn’t quite make the list!