An In-depth Guide to Betting on the Olympics

Olympics logo The Olympics for many is the ultimate sporting spectacular and is watched by millions around the globe. In our ultimate guide, we discuss all you need to know about betting on the Olympics. We’ll cover what Olympic sports you can bet on, the different types of bets you can place and find you the best bookmakers that accept Olympic betting.

The Top 10 Olympics Betting Sites
Best Betting Sites Bonus Offers Highlights Rating Secure Link T&C’s
Betway Up to £30 100% Deposit Match Best for Football 5/5 Visit Site! Full T&Cs Apply! *New UK and Ireland Customers Only. Min Deposit: £/€10. First Deposit matched up to £/€30. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Debit Card & PayPal deposits only.
888sport Up to £30In Free Bets Fantastic Odds 5/5 Visit Site! Full T&Cs Apply! Under the terms of this Promotion, eligible members will receive £30 in free bets at the Site. In order to receive the welcome offer, members must first place a qualifying bet. A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 with odds of 1/2 (1.5) or greater. Bets that are ‘Cashed Out’ do not qualify. First qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of registration. Please gamble responsibly. 18+
bet365 Up to £100In Bet Credits Top In-Play Wagers 4.5/5 Visit Site! Full T&Cs Apply! Open Account Offer. Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.

The Most Popular Olympic Sports you can Bet On

With over 30 sports, nearly 50 disciplines and hundreds of races, there is plenty of opportunities for Olympic Games betting. While not every event will be available at every bookmaker, the top Olympic sports betting sites have a massive range of choice for you to wager on.

The Most Common Olympic Sports
Olympic Sport Governing Body Olympic Since Participations Most Gold Medals
Swimming 1896 (Women 1912) 32 USA (248)
Gymnastics 1896 (Women 1928) 32 USSR (72)
Track and Field 1896 (Women 1928) 32 USA (335)
Football 1900 (Women 1996) 26 (Women 6) Hungary, GB (3) USA (Women, 4)
Basketball 1936 (Women 1976) 19 (Women 11) USA (15, Women 8)

The table above shows the most-backed sports when Olympic betting, there are of course other sports that we have not included in the table; such as boxing, fencing, weightlifting, rowing and judo among many others. In the next section, we will take a look at some of the most popular markets that Brits bet on.


Swimming logo Sixteen swimming events take place at the Olympics and these cover distances of 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m and even 10,000m. Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, and individual medley events make up the majority of the swimming programme. Swimming has been a mainstay of the Olympics, featuring in the first edition of the modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, it’s a popular choice for Olympic sports betting.


Gymnastic logo Gymnastics, like swimming, has been a permanent fixture in the Olympic calendar. It’s a beautiful display of strength in events such as the pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars, and high bar but complemented with grace and poise in the floor exercise events. American Simone Biles dominated the Rio 2016 Olympics, winning four golds.

Track and Field

Track and Field logo Few sporting events come close to the excitement of track and field events. The 100m final is considered the showcase event and is watched by millions. Great Britain has only had two winners since 1896, Harold Abrahams won the title in 1924 and more recently, Linford Christie in 1992. The now-retired Usain Bolt has dominated in recent history, winning gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016.


Football logo Betting on football is a British passion and millions of us back our favourite teams in the Premier League every week. Our love for football betting also extends to football Olympic betting. Pre-1992 Olympics in Barcelona, players were not allowed to be professional players which meant star players in the sport couldn’t compete. Thankfully this is no longer the case as was seen in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in which Leo Messi helped his Argentina side to gold.


Basketball logo A firm fan favourite of the Olympics is Basketball that was first introduced to the games in 1936 (1976 for women). Without a doubt, the most prosperous country in basketball is the United States. Such is their dominance; they have won 13 out of the 18 available gold medals. The only time the American team have not finished in the top three was when America America boycotted the 1980 Olympic games.

Olympics Betting Sites: A look at Odds

We promised to bring you the best betting sites, and a sure way of telling if a bookmaker is worthwhile is by the level of Olympic betting odds they offer. The lower the odds, the less money you win, and the higher profit the company makes. Alternatively, if a company offers decent odds, it means more winnings for you.

The Odds of Olympics Events at the Best Bookmakers
Olympic Betting Site Swimming Gymnastic Track and Field Football Basketball
92.3% 92.9% 93.9% 94.2% 92.6%
92.5% 92.9% 91.2% 93.8% 93.6%
94.1% 92.5% 92.3% 93.3% 94.7%
91.7% 91.9% 92.9% 93.5% 93.2%
91.8% 92.6% 93.7% 93.5% 92.6%

As you can see in the table above, all five of our recommended sports betting sites consistently offered a return to player figure of over 90%. We looked at historical odds offered during the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. Picking five of the most popular sports, we were able to calculate the payout rates.

The Most Popular Betting Types

When betting on the Olympics, there is an incredible range of sports you can bet on; there is also a vast range of betting types you can place. Old school betting was simply a case of team A, or team B will win, however, when Olympic sports betting today, you can bet on almost everything! In this section, we’ll cover some of the most popular bets.

Gold Medal Table Toppers

A popular market when betting on the Olympics is predicting which country will have the most gold medals at the end of the tournament. In the 1960s, the battle to be the most successful country was often a straight fight between the USA and the USSR. In recent times it is China challenging the Americans.

Under/Over Betting Market

The under/over bet is one of the most flexible betting types and can be used in a variety of different ways. The bookmaker will set a target number (this could be goals, points or even time) and you have to decide if the actual tally will be lower (under) or higher (over).

Example: One of the most popular under/over betting markets is predicting how many gold medals a particular country will win during the tournament. The bookmaker will assess a team based on past performance and current form and give an estimation of how many golds will be won. To prevent a situation that would result in the bet being pushed (returning of the stake as the bet is neither a winner or a loser), the bookmaker will set a total that cannot be achieved such as 32.5.

How to Use it: The first step before betting is to check on the past performances of the team or player that you wish to back. Although past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, it does give a good indication of a realistic trophy haul. For example; In the 2000 Olympics Great Britain took 11 golds. This figure reduced to nine in 2004. In the Beijing games in 2008, this total increased to 19. At London, in 2012 Great Britain took 29 golds, a figure that fell to 27 in Rio in 2016.

Head to Head Betting

The Olympics Games is often a tournament in which fierce rivals get the chance to prove that they are the better athlete than their nemeses. Older readers might remember the infamous women’s 3,000m at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984 when Britain’s barefoot runner Zola Budd was involved in a tripping incident with American Mary Decker. It’s these rivalries and deciding who to back that makes Olympic betting so enjoyable.

Winner Excluding the Favourite Betting

In some sports, a particular team or individual can dominate to such an extent that it seems foolhardy to back anyone else—the British excel at cycling. Kenya and Ethiopia dominate distance running. China owns badminton and table tennis, and until recently the Jamaicans are the sprint masters. Therefore the winner excluding the favourite option breathes live back into betting on a sport that you might otherwise avoid.

Live Betting on Olympics

Few things have had more of an impact on sports betting than the introduction of live betting. Also called in-play betting, you no longer have to place bets before an event, with live betting you can place bets while the action is taking place.

This ability to wait until you place your bets opens up opportunities that would have seen impossible even a decade ago. If a player or a team are notoriously slow starters, you can wait until their opponents have a lead, taking advantage of the ever-fluctuating odds. You also don’t need to wait until the event is finished to close your bet. The best Olympics betting sites offer the functionality to cash-out your bets early. Ideal if you’re not convinced your selection will hang on till the end.

The Promotions You Can Find for Olympics Betting

One of the highlights about betting on the Olympics online is taking advantage of one of the many promotions that the bookmakers offer. As the UK gambling market is one of the most competitive in the world, you’ll find plenty of special offers that you can use when betting on the Olympics.

Olympic sporting action
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Open a new account with one of our recommended Olympic betting sites, and you can find various opportunities that you have can wager on. There are plenty of deals, we have a dedicated bonus page if you’d like to learn more.

The history of the Olympics

Historians believe the original Olympics took place in ancient Greece in 776 B.C and contained just one event, a 192-meter footrace that was won by a cook called Coroebus. Like today, the games were held every four years and honoured the sky and thunder Greek god Zeus. The games ran until A.D 67 until Emperor Theodosius I ordered a ban on all “pagan” festivals.

The modern reinvention of the Olympics took place 1,500 years later when the first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896. Unlike its predecessor, which only had one event, the reimagining of the games featured 280 participants from 13 nations who competed in 43 events. The World wars prevented 1916, 1940, and 1944 games and the Coronavirus outbreak has postponed the 2020 Olympics until 2021.

Olympic Betting: Hints & Tips

Tactics when betting on the Olympics are the same as betting on other sports, and one of the golden rules to follow is to do your research. While gut feelings are fine and can often pay dividends, best practice is to only place wagers on sports that you have a great deal of knowledge about.

Finding this information isn’t challenging, though! All the best Olympics betting sites have a wealth of statistical data available to you. With just one click, you’ll be able to see historical information of when the teams or players last faced each other. As the form is a good indicator when betting, utilising the tools available to you can be the difference in seeing a return or not.

Olympics: Interesting Facts

So far in this guide to betting on the Olympics, we’ve looked at some of the sports that punters place bets on in the tournament. We’ve explored some of the popular markets such as gold medal betting and the over/under markets, and we’ve had a brief overview of the history of the tournament.

In this next section, we’ll continue the theme of history and share some of the interesting facts and figures that you may not know about the Olympics. Admittedly this will not help you win any money, but we hope you’ll find it interesting nonetheless.

The Olympic Flag

Olympic rings pictureThe Olympic logo featuring the interconnecting rings represents the five significant continents of the world. They are joined together to symbolise friendship. The colours were chosen because every flag of a nation contains at least one of the colours (blue, yellow, black, green and red). The flag was created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1914.

The Olympic Motto

The Olympic MottoAs well as designing the Olympic flag, Pierre de Coubertin also introduced a motto and an oath for the games. The motto is the Latin phrase: Citius, Altius, Fortius which means “Swifter, Higher, Stronger”. An oath is also read out by one athlete at the opening ceremony on behalf of all competitors. It pledges that athletes will abide by rules and the true spirit of sportsmanship.

Opening Ceremony

Olympics opening ceremonyThe first opening ceremonies were held during the 1908 Olympic Games in London, and while it can often seem random, there is a strict order in which teams appear. The first country to enter the arena is always the Greek team, paying homage to the ancient Olympic Games. The rest of the competitors come in alphabetical order with the final country to appear being the host nation.

Olympic Betting: Conclusion

Olympic betting is one of the most popular activities at online sports betting sites, and it’s easy to see why. The sheer number of sports that are represented at the Olympics ensures there is something for everyone. Whether you like the artistry of rhythmic gymnastics, the skill of archery, the pure power of weightlifting or the endurance of the triathlon, it’s all here and so much more.

All of our recommended Olympic betting sites make the process of placing a bet really simple. There was a huge selection of events you can bet on and the odds they offered represented great value for money. This value is increased if you take advantage of the new customer deals that are available.

FAQ’s Regarding Olympic Sports Betting

We have now reached the end of our guide to betting on the Olympics, and we hope you have found this overview useful and informative. In this last section, we will cover the frequently asked questions we get asked about betting on the Olympics at online sports betting sites.

Is Olympic Sports Betting Safe?

All of the sports betting sites that offer Olympic sports that we feature on this page are fully regulated and licenced by the UK Gambling Commission. This ensures that your online betting experience is as safe as possible. For added protection, these bookmakers offer a wide range of payment methods which add an extra layer of protection.

What Olympic Sports Can I Bet On?

There are over 45 sports that are featured at the summer Olympics ranging from team sports such as football, water polo and volleyball to individual events such as wrestling, BMX racing and judo. All of which can be backed at our recommended Olympic betting sites. You can find out more information about the different sports by checking our dedicated section.

Can I Use a Welcome Bonus for Olympic Sports Betting?

Yes, you can use a welcome bonus for Olympic sports betting. As the UK is one of the most competitive sports betting markets in the world, bookmakers offer some excellent incentives for you to join them. These range from matched deposits, free bets and cashback deals. You can find out more here.

Can I Bet on the Olympics Live?

Thanks to in-play betting that is available at online sports betting sites, you no longer need to ensure you have placed your bets before an event starts. You are now able to bet on the action while it is taking place, and as the odds are constantly changing, it is possible to get better value by waiting to place your bet. To find out more, check out our Olympics live betting section.