Betting Guide

Most Popular Sports for Betting

What Are The Most Popular Sports To Bet On?

From the stars to the unsung heroes and the resounding victories to the unexpected upsets - sport gives us so much anticipation, excitement and pleasure! Whether live at the venue or watching on the TV, following our favourite players and teams isn't just a hobby; it's a passion for life. Sports betting can add even more to the anticipation and entertainment, upping the stakes of every contest - even when we are watching as a neutral.

The internet has made it easier than ever for sports fans around the world to enjoy betting, but which are the most popular sports to bet on? We have conducted our own study into search trends and can now reveal the UK's favourite sports for betting, ranked by people looking to bet on them online.

So here goes - let's start with the most popular of all!

1) Football

Perhaps it is no surprise that 'the beautiful game' is top of the charts here. Fans just can't get enough football, and this is reflected by the fact that football betting is the most popular type of sports betting in the UK.

The first formal football association dates back to 1868 in England, the country which invented the sport. Today, England is also the country with the 'richest domestic league in the world', the Premier League, a competition that is watched by millions all over the globe, with Premier League betting one of the most popular markets in the sport. Despite the prominence of its club sides, the English national team has only claimed a single major international trophy, having won the World Cup in 1966.

Taking place every four years, the World Cup is a 'festival of football' contested by countries from several continents. Brazil has won the tournament the most times, being crowned world champions on no less than five occasions. Germany and Italy are the next most successful, with four titles each. The European Championships, also taking place every four years, is another iconic competition that captivates viewers and sports betting fans.

On the club scene, the sport's best players tend to ply their trade in Europe, and this makes the Champions League, featuring the best clubs from around the continent, a must-watch competition for football fans. With games typically taking place on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, the Champions League provides a great midweek betting opportunity throughout the season.

Domestically, other than the Premier League there are four other 'big leagues' in Europe which demand the attention of football fans. These are Spain's La Liga, Germany's Bundesliga, Italy's Serie A, and France's Ligue One.

Football betting fans enjoy making wagers such as match outcome, final score, and first goalscorer, as well as a host of live markets available for in-play betting.

2) Golf

Taking second place on the sports betting podium is golf. Surprised? Don't be, because golf is a truly global sport that attracts a huge range of fans. On most weekends, you can find a golf tournament taking place from Thursday to Sunday, and it might be this regularity that adds to the attractiveness of golf betting.

It is America's PGA Tour and the European Tour which keep the golf calendar ticking over, and both of these organisations attract the top players from around the world. But regardless of which tour a golfer bases themselves on, the 'crown jewels' of the sport remain the four majors, which take place annually and are the pinnacle of the sport.

The first major on the calendar in April is traditionally the US Masters, a tournament steeped in history that takes place at the Augusta National course in Georgia, US, in April. This is followed by the US PGA Championship in May, the US Open in June, and the UK's Open Championship in July. American Jack Nicklaus has won the most majors in history with 18, and he is followed on the all-time major winner's list by countryman Tiger Woods, who has 15 to his name.

Sports betting fans should also look out for the Ryder Cup, which takes place every two years and has a matchplay format that pits American and European teams against each other over three days.

A tournament winner is a popular bet in golf, but with large fields typically numbering over 100 golfers, an each-way bet can be popular. This type of bet reduces risk as it pays out if a golfer wins the tournament or places (finishing in the top two, three, four, or another number of places, as specified by the bookmaker).

3) Horse racing

For many people, horse racing and betting go hand in hand. Betting on horse racing is woven into the culture of the sport, and has been enjoyed for centuries. Like football and golf, horse racing offers the attraction of a packed calendar that can mean there is nearly always an upcoming race to bet on.

Horse races can be loosely split between jumps (requiring the horse to jump over obstacles) and flat (no obstacles), but horse race has many different categories and classes.

Stand-out events in this truly international sport include; the UK's Cheltenham Festival in March, Grand National in April, Royal Ascot in June, and Epsom Derby in July; Ireland's Irish Derby in June and Punchestown Festival in May; America's Pegasus World Cup in January, Breeders' Cup in November and Kentucky Derby in May; Australia's Melbourne Cup in November; UAE's Dubai World Cup in March; France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October; and Germany's Baden-Baden in September. Note that the months when the races are held can be subject to change.

When assessing which horses might perform well in a certain race, punters can look at factors such as form, the pedigree of the horse, its trainer, or its jockey. Such information can be referred to easily on a standard racing card, which can be found online or in a bookmaker's shop.

From race winners to each way bets, accumulators, and handicap betting, horse racing offers a wide variety of different markets for sports betting fans to try.

The main reason for the success of Horse Racing betting over Football comes from events such as the Cheltenham Festival, where betting offers are provided by online betting sites in their dozens. Find our offers on our Cheltenham betting offers.

4) Cricket

While it may not be established all around the globe, cricket is truly loved in the countries where it has a large presence. From the lush green grass of England where the sport was born to the dust bowls of the Indian subcontinent and challenging tracks of Australia - the different conditions found in cricketing countries add to the intrigue as touring teams attempt to score a victory on foreign soil.

Cricket is traditionally seasonal, but due to the sport being played on both sides of the equator, you can find fixtures to bet on throughout the calendar. Internationally, there are three main formats of the sport. Test matches, which can last up to five days, are the most traditional form of the game, posing a stern assessment of players' physical and mental fortitude. You can also enjoy One Day International (ODI) cricket, which is typically faster-paced than Test matches and Twenty20 (T20) cricket, which is the shortest format and is known for its excitement and big hits.

The ODI and T20 formats hold World Cups that attract huge attention worldwide, and when it comes to Test series, there are no fixtures that compare to the sport's oldest rivalry; England vs Australia, also known as 'The Ashes'. Domestically, T20 has grown to become the high-profile, big-money format, with the India Premier League having cemented its status as a loud, lavish and intoxicating carnival of cricket. Other limited-overs leagues to watch out for include Australia's Big Bash, the Pakistan Super League and England's 'The Hundred'.

Cricket betting offers you the choice of individual player bets such as top wicket-taker or run-scorer, outcome bets for series or individual matches, and live betting that requires you to predict how many runs will be scored in a certain bracket (number of overs).

5) Esports

You might not have had Esports down as one of the most popular sports in the world, but when it comes to betting, these video games competitions can have fans on the edge of their seat, just like any 'real life' contest.

eSports is short for electronic sports and is an organised form of multiplayer video games which can be completed individually or in a team format. This is an area of sports betting that has grown in recent years, as people have become more familiar with the games themselves. Spectators can watch Esports live online, and this has given rise to betting on professional Esports contests.

Some of the most popular Esports games are; Dota, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike. High profile tournaments have sprung up around these titles, and fans can expect a steady stream of betting opportunities throughout the year, many of which can be watched live. There has even been a movement to include Esports in the list of Olympic sports.

When it comes to betting on eSports, options include the outright tournament winners, as well as the performance of individual players and teams.

6) Tennis

Unlike Esports, tennis isn't a 'new kid on the block', having been played in some form since the 1870s. Tennis is contested on a variety of surfaces around the world, and these can be categorised as; grass, clay or hardcourt. Some players may perform better on a particular type of surface.

In the world of tennis betting, fans are provided with a healthy spread of tournaments throughout the year, and these are part of the ATP Tour for men and the WTA Tour for women. The tournaments which grab the most attention are the four Grand Slams. These are the Australian Open in January, the French Open in May and June, the UK's Wimbledon in July, and the US Open in August and September.

Below these four majors, the Master's events held around the world can be seen as the next highest class of the tournament. The men's and women's season's climax with the ATP Finals and WTA Finals, respectively. These indoor tournaments pit the highest-ranked players against each other in a battle for rankings points and big prize money.

At the time of writing, Swiss Roger Federer and Spaniard Rafael Nadal are the most successful players in the men's game, having won 20 Grand Slams each. When it comes to women, Australian Margaret Court holds the most with 24, followed by Serena Williams with 23.

Naturally, there is a lot of betting interest around the four Grand Slams, when punters might like to bet on the tournament winner or have an each-way bet. The in-play market holds a lot of excitement due to the sudden swings in momentum, which can characterise tennis matches.

7) Rugby

Another sport born in 1800s Europe is rugby, of which there are now two main codes - rugby union and rugby league. Both sports are played in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with different rule sets for each game. Union is recognised as a more free-flowing game with 15 players per side, while league - which is especially popular in Australia and the North of England - has teams of 13 players.

Like football, rugby union has a World Cup every four years, but each year there is usually a feast of international rugby, including; the Six Nations, contested by England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy; the Rugby Championship, between Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina; and the Autumn Internationals, which invites Southern Hemisphere teams to tour the European nations. Every few years you can also watch Lions tours, which send a squad of the best England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland players on tour to a Southern Hemisphere nation.

Domestically, there are leagues to follow in the major rugby playing nations of Europe, including the Top 14 in France, Premiership in England, and Pro14 for teams in Ireland, Scotland, Italy, South Africa and Wales. In the Southern Hemisphere, Super Rugby involves teams from Australia and New Zealand.

Whether you are betting on match outcome, the number of tries or a tournament winner, rugby betting offers a plethora of options, including in-play betting.

So there you have it - the most popular betting sports according to the search activity of internet users. It looks as if football reigns supreme, but there have never been more sports betting options for fans to choose from, if you're looking for betting odds and markets for any of these sports check out the Bet UK sportsbook.

2021-11-10