The Olympic Games and online gambling: Wanna bet?

The single greatest institution of sporting prowess, the Olympics, is soon to be underway. Following the almost predictable, yet nonetheless lamentable, national sporting low of the 2016 UEFA European Football Championships, in which England delivered a lacklustre performance, the nation needs a boost and fast.

Sure, we’ve just had Wimbledon, in which Great Britain’s Andy Murray triumphantly secured his second title. However, in terms of providing a national sporting tonic, there is nothing quite like coming out on top at the Olympic Games, and if our heroes of London 2012 can once more scale those dizzy heights and replicate the outstanding accomplishments they achieved in London, then that will go some way to restoring our national pride.

This year’s Games take place in the sun-kissed, tropical location of Rio de Janeiro, from 5th August through to 21st August, and will feature 10,000 athletes from as many as 206 different countries, taking part in 306 events across 28 sports.

One thing is for certain though; whether they are hoping to see Usain’s ‘Lightning Bolt’ pose after he crosses the finish line, or Mo Farah’s now famous signature ‘Mobot’ move, the public will be watching closely.

The London 2012 Olympics secured record viewing figures for the BBC when it delivered the biggest national television event since current measurements began, with 51.9m (90 per cent of the UK population) watching at least 15 minutes of coverage. 24.2m (42 per cent of the UK population) also watched at least 15 minutes of coverage on the BBC Red Button.

With those kind of viewing figures, and with the proliferation of mobile betting opportunities afforded to almost every sporting occasion in the calendar, it’s no wonder that in London 2012, it wasn’t only Usain Bolt and Mo Farah that stood proudly aloft the podium; the betting industry also struck gold.

Olympic betting

One of the industry’s most well-known betting and gambling companies estimated that the sector turned over close to £80m during the two-week period in 2012, compared with £4m during the Beijing Games four years prior. Even if we factor in that a ‘home’ Games would no doubt elicit increased participation, these are still incredible figures. When you also take into account that another of the industry’s big players saw a similarly impressive increase in betting activity, with the total number of customers making bets doubling from circa 50,000 in 2008 to just under 100,000 in 2012, you realise that Olympic betting is at an all-time high, and in my opinion, this year’s sporting extravaganza just might top the lot.

The increase in mobile gambling is one of the key drivers behind Olympic betting. The huge uptake and use of mobile devices is transforming almost every industry and the gaming and betting industry is no different. Let’s face it, the mobile gambling industry is estimated to have taken £21.54 billion last year, making up almost 17 per cent of gambling takings worldwide, and is expected to be worth a staggering $100 billion (£70bn) by 2017. Being constantly connected and able to instantly place bets, check odds and claim winnings without ever setting foot outside is transforming the industry unequivocally. A recent report by Smart Live Gaming suggests that mobile gambling will not only account for over 40 per cent of online gambling by 2018, but states that the number of players gambling online will increase by approximately 100 million by 2018.

For gamblers, another major appeal of the Olympics is the sheer amount of sports that can be bet on, and with the intense competition lasting between 16-18 hours per day for a two-week period, the betting opportunities are almost endless.

What other sporting occasion affords you the opportunity to bet on Football, still the most gambled on sport in the UK, whilst simultaneously having a flutter on tennis, which, fuelled by a boom in online and in-play betting, has experienced exponential growth. The betting statistics aren’t in yet from this year’s Wimbledon but the 2016 Australian Open saw an 80 per cent surge in betting turnover when compared to last year, with an incredible 20,000 more bets placed on the first day of the competition than in 2015.

The future of online betting

The London Olympics were the first time that live in-play betting was offered on individual and team events. This became instantly popular and today, the big brands are offering the longest lists of Olympic gambling odds of all time.

I have no doubt that Olympic gambling will continue to set completely new records, as it has done since its humble beginnings in Beijing, eight years ago. Pre-Olympic odds are already posted for some of the biggest events and with the live in-play interactive gambling options available, even a full marathon will become quite interesting.

The array of in-play betting opportunities available across all 206 events leave gamblers with a mind-boggling number of opportunities to beat the bookies. But equally as important, are the massive opportunities for organisations to gatecrash the party by developing beautiful, customer friendly and intuitive betting apps that gamblers will love using to place their bets, and for any organisation looking to develop a new betting app, as one of the leading mobile specialists, we’re always willing to help.

So, get your Union Flags at the ready and prepare to roar our Olympic heroes of 2012 on to more glory. Yet again, it’s time to place your bets.

Paul Swaddle, Chairman, Pocket App

Image source: Shutterstock/Filipe Frazao