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How to Bet on the Olympics: Where You Can Bet on Them & Expert Betting Strategies

The Olympics can provide some of the most entertaining sweats in sports. The Dream Team of 2008 and the Miracle Team of 1980 were both great moments in sports — and, with the legalization of sports betting across the United States, would’ve been great opportunities for sports bettors. Let’s dive into how to bet on the Olympics! We’ll explain where you can bet on the Olympics — and which states have legal restrictions on them — before diving into my Olympic betting strategies.

How to Bet on the Olympics

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Where Can You Bet on the Olympics?

Before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, two states that had legalized sports betting, Illinois and Virginia, didn’t permit sports betting on the games. In Illinois’ case, that was an oversight, and the state gambling board remedied the situation by early May. Virginia chose not to do so but has since opened the door to it.

Generally, if you can bet on sports in your state, you will also be permitted to bet on the Olympics. Things can get tricky because there are often athletes under 18 competing. Books are often prohibited from taking action on those athletes. Further, some states (like Iowa in 2024) prohibit betting on the total medal count for individual countries.

If you’re trying to figure out if Olympic betting is legal in your state, the best place to check is the sportsbook where you usually play. Scroll through the available markets to see what’s being offered — futures betting is generally open well in advance of the tournament.

Olympic Betting Strategies

Specialize, Specialize, Specialize | How to Bet on the Olympics

My biggest Olympics betting strategy tip is to specialize. You don’t have to pick just one sport, but you cannot possibly hope to have an edge in every competition at the games.

We have some sport-specific guides to help you, including general tips for how to bet on soccer and how to bet on tennis, but we also have a specific explainer on how to bet on Olympic basketball.

I recommend trying to know everything you can about the field in two to three sports. While you’re probably already familiar with national teams and their star athletes, you must know the specifics of who is playing for each team that year.

Specialization is also important because it allows you to understand the tournament format for your event and any rules associated with it.

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For example, studying basketball would give you time to think about differences between FIBA and the NBA. It would also allow you to adjust for possible future matchups in knockout play.

Look at the Schedule | How to Bet on the Olympics

Because the Olympics are an international event, games and events are often at inconvenient times for at least some part of the world. If you’re the type of bettor who only wants to sweat the games you can watch, be sure to check when your chosen event is scheduled.

For example, at the 2024 Paris Olympics, the gold medal game in men’s baskeball was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, which is a reasonable hour everywhere in the United States, but the women’s gold medal game was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET, not quite so reasonable for those on the West Coast.

Don’t Blindly Bet Big American Favorites | How to Bet on the Olympics

If you’re in the United States, you probably want to root for your favorite Team USA athletes. I know this, you know this, and, most importantly, the sportsbooks know this. Remember, they are not your friends.

Both American athletes and teams are often priced at a premium. Sometimes fairly so — in men’s basketball, Team USA is usually a -400 favorite to win gold, which they have done every year since 2008.

When it came to individual games, however, Team USA was a bit less impressive in Tokyo than the market believed. In the opener, Team USA lost to France as a -600 favorite and with a 12-point advantage against the spread.

Team USA got revenge against France in the gold medal game but still failed to cover the 12-point spread, ending the Olympics with a 3-2-1 ATS record. That Team USA roster had no business being favored by double digits over France — twice!

Don’t Forget to Hedge! | How to Bet on the Olympics

Betting on Olympic futures is incredibly fun because you get a full tournament experience in just two weeks. That means no waiting eight months for the end of the NBA or NHL season — you can get your payout quite quickly if you cash a futures ticket.

But while I personally love betting on Olympic futures, I’m an even bigger fan of making money. Let’s say you looked at the men’s basketball tournament bracket and saw that if, say, Canada won its group, it wouldn’t have to face Team USA until the finals. Let’s also say their odds were +1000 to win gold before the tournament started.

Now let’s assume Canada makes it to knockout play as their group winner. Their odds are now likely down to +400 or so as the favorite to play Team USA in the finals. As long as Team USA’s odds are longer than -1000, you would be able to hedge your ticket and increase your odds of a return.

Personally, I would likely wait to hedge until the finals, at which point I would see whether I could increase my odds of (in this case, guarantee) a return. Bettors who get lucky with futures tickets are usually too quick to contemplate whether they should cash it out and not quick enough to contemplate whether they should hedge, either for their stake back or to guarantee a profit.

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OddsShopper’s Sports Betting Tools & Tips

New to sports betting? OddsShopper’s selection of Betting 101 articles is here to help you formulate a profitable Olympics betting strategy. We even have a parlay builder and our guide to parlay betting. Check out our guide to finding positive expected value (+EV), and you can unlock more +EV plays by signing up for OddsShopper Premium!

Isaiah Sirois

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Isaiah Sirois

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