Olympics Betting Guide: Tokyo 2020

After a lengthy delay the summer Olympics are finally here. Yes, it’s 2021. Yes, the upcoming Olympic Games being held in Tokyo is officially known as the 2020 Olympics. Similar to the recently completed soccer tournament, Euro 2020, the Olympics delayed its global event by a year but decided not to change the official name. So when we refer to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it’s not a typo. You know what else isn’t a typo? That the sports betting landscape in the United States has changed completely since the last Olympics took place in February 2018.

This page will be your official guide on how to navigate the myriad betting opportunities available during the two weeks of Olympic competition. Read on for more information on which states allow betting on the Olympics, which sportsbooks will be offering wagering on the Olympics, the best sports to bet on and why, insight on the top athletes competing in Tokyo, and more. Let’s get started.

Can I legally wager on the 2020 Olympics?

Yes! Sports betting is now legal in certain areas of the United States, including betting on the Olympics. PASPA, the federal law that prevented new states from legalizing sports betting, fell in the Supreme Court in May 2018. Since then, each new legislative session has brought more progress, and more widespread access to legal, regulated betting. Many states have even specifically legalized betting on the Olympics. The last Olympics finished just a few months before PASPA was struck down, meaning the Tokyo games will be the first Olympics in which fans can legally bet on the events.

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Which states allow betting on the Olympics?

Twenty-one (21) states plus Washington, DC, currently offer legal sports betting. Every state is different, with some offering online and retail betting, some having retail betting only, and two (Virginia and Tennessee) only offering online betting with no retail options available. Each state also decides which sports and sporting events are allowed to be wagered on. Some states, like Colorado, are open to all sorts of sports and approve almost every request for a new sport or event to wager on. Other states are more conservative and stick to the bigger ticket items.

Wagering on the Olympics is no different. Most states have authorized betting on the Olympics, but some are sitting it out, mostly because the athletes are technically “amateurs” and some are 18 and younger. A few states explicitly prohibit wagering on sporting events involving competitors who are 18 and under. Here is a list of states that do, and do not allow betting on Olympic events.

States that allow betting on the Olympics

States that do not allow, or are not offering betting on the Olympics

  • Delaware
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington, DC

What Olympic events can you bet on?

Caesars Sportsbook (formerly William Hill) is an industry leader and operates in more states than any other sportsbook. Its wagering menu includes a list of Olympic events. Notably, the list does not include some events that include judging scores, such as gymnastics, equestrian, and diving. Events like track & field, soccer, basketball, and weight lifting are not “judged,” so they are available for wagering. Breaking the trend, surfing is judged and still available for wagering, so this is not a hard and fast rule.

Since this is the first Olympics with widespread wagering opportunities, every sportsbook seems to be taking a different approach. Some, including Barstool Sportsbook, are offering action on gymnastics and other judged events in addition to a wide variety of sports. Others have a more limited menu. Be sure to check with your preferred sportsbook to see which Olympic events are offered.

So many sports!

There are 46 summer Olympic sports this year, many of which are judged, so it makes sense that not every sportsbook will offer the same wagering opportunities due to their internal risk management structures. Plus demand for wagering on Olympic sports is unknown since we have never had a summer Olympics with legal betting available in states outside of Nevada, so some books may be starting out slow and adding additional sports if demand picks up.

That said, there are many Olympic events available for wagering. Over/under bets on an individual country’s medal totals has also emerged as a popular choice. Here are a few of the more popular betting options. This is not a comprehensive list because different sportsbooks will have different markets, but all of them should have most of these bets.

Country medal totals

CountryO/U Total MedalsO/U Gold Medals
USA112.543.5
China88.537.5
Japan49.525.5
Great Britain41.514.5
Australia39.513.5
Germany33.511.5
Latvia0.50.5

All Olympic sports markets

SportMenWomen
BadmintonYesYes
BaseballYesNo
BasketballYesYes
Field HockeyYesYes
GolfYesYes
HandballYesYes
Karate - KataYesYes
Karate - KumiteYesYes
Rugby SevensYesYes
SoccerYesYes
SoftballNoYes
Sport ClimbingYesYes
SurfingYesYes
SwimmingYesYes
TaekwondoYesYes
Tennis - Singles and DoublesYesYes
Track & FieldYesYes
TriathlonYesYes
VolleyballYesYes
Water PoloYesYes
WeightliftingYesYes
Wrestling - FreestyleYesYes
Wrestling - Greco-RomanYesNo

Olympic Betting Odds

So what do the current Olympic betting odds look like? We surveyed BetMGM sportsbook and have compiled a list of popular markets and the current prices. Keep in mind the odds will update as we draw closer to each competition and event. If you like the price below, you may want to strike while the iron is hot.

Men’s Olympic Basketball Odds

  • USA -350
  • Australia +750
  • Spain +900
  • France +1500
  • Slovenia +2000
  • Nigeria +2500

Women’s Olympic Basketball Odds

  • USA -1000
  • Australia +1600
  • France +2200
  • Canada +2500
  • Spain +2500

Olympic Baseball Odds

  • Japan +170
  • USA +300
  • South Korea +350
  • Mexico +650
  • Dominican Republic +700

Olympic Softball Odds

  • USA -200
  • Japan +250
  • Canada +1400
  • Mexico +2000
  • Australia +2200

Women’s Olympic Soccer Odds

  • USA -185
  • Netherlands +600
  • Great Britain +900
  • Sweden +1100
  • Japan +1100

Most Gold Medals in Tokyo Odds

  • USA -1000
  • China +550
  • Japan +2200
  • Great Britain +3300
  • Russia OC +3300

Olympic Swimming Odds

Action is available on a wealth fo swimming events. This includes all strokes and distances. Some highlights consist of:

Men’s 400m Individual Medley

  • D. Seto -165
  • C. Kalisz +350
  • Rest of Field +500

Women’s 400m Individual Medley

  • K. Hosszu -125
  • Y. Ohashi +250
  • Rest of Field +350

Men’s 100m Butterfly

  • C. Dressel -1000
  • K. Milak +500
  • Rest of Field +800

Women’s 100m Breast Stroke

  • L. King -350
  • L. Jacoby +300
  • Rest of Field +700

Men’s 50m Freestyle

  • C. Dressel -800
  • V. Morozov +500
  • K. Kolesnikov +700

Women’s 50m Freestyle

  • C. Campbell +250
  • E. McKeon +250
  • Rest of Field +325

Men’s 100m Freestyle

  • C. Dressel -115
  • K. Chalmers +300
  • K. Kolesnikov +350
  • D. Popovici +350

Women’s 100m Freestyle

  • E. McKeon +100
  • C. Campbell +225
  • Rest of Field +225

Women’s 200m Freestyle

  • A. Titmus -350
  • K. Ledecky +350
  • F. Pellegrini +375

Women’s 400m Freestyle

  • A. Titmus -250
  • K. Ledecky +200
  • Rest of Field +800

Women’s 800m Freestyle

  • K. Ledecky -400
  • A. Titmus +250
  • S. Quadarella +650

Women’s 1500m Freestyle

  • K. Ledecky -500
  • S. Quadarella +500
  • Rest of Field +600

Sportsbooks offering Olympics wagering

DraftKings has many wagering opportunities for those who want to bet on the Olympics. As a market leader, this makes sense. But are the other sportsbooks also going all-in on the Olympics? Let’s find out. We’ve listed all of the most popular books below. If they aren’t offering Olympics betting yet, we let you know.

New Olympic sports

There are 46 sports at this year’s Olympics, including a few new entries. Brand new Olympic sports include:

Skateboarding

There will be two disciplines of skateboarding at the Olympics: Park and Street. The Park has many bowls and looks kind of like a big drained-out pool. Skaters will display their aerial skills in the Park competition, flipping and twisting in ways often seen on a half-pipe. The Street, on the other hand, will require more agility and focus while grinding on both round and square rails. The Street layout is a more traditional skateboarding competition setup, which looks a little like an abandoned office park with stairs, ramps, and handrails. The atmosphere is sure to be festive, with music also being an important part of the performance. Skateboarding could quickly become one of the coolest Olympic sports.

Surfing

Speaking of cool new Olympic sports, few sports are cooler than surfing. Surfing competitions happen all around the world, and professional surfers travel all over in search of the best waves. Two men and two women will represent our country as the first American Olympian surfers. They will be competing at a surf park in the Pacific Ocean outside Tokyo, trying to find the tastiest waves in a format similar to a traditional surfing competition. Judges will evaluate both the athletes’ performance and the strength of the waves and will award the first Olympic medals in surfing to the surfers who can creatively maneuver up to 25 waves in 30 minutes over several rounds of competition.

Sport Climbing

If the strength of one’s fingers could be measured, rock climbers would take the gold. Their dexterity and flexibility rivals that of gymnasts and their courage is as strong as their legs and arms. The three disciplines include Speed, Bouldering, and Lead, each of which pose a unique test. The top climbers in the world will be competing in Tokyo, and they will need both their strength and intelligence to navigate the three disciplines and win a medal in the first Sport Climbing event at the Olympics.

Karate

The ancient Japanese martial art discipline of Karate has been around for centuries but is new to the Olympics. It is fitting that Karate, a major sport practiced by millions in Japan, makes its Olympic debut in its country of origin. This is obviously not coincidental, but it will be exciting nonetheless to see how Karate stacks up against the more established Olympic martial arts sports of Judo and Taekwondo. Kata and Kumite are the two disciplines that will be featured in Tokyo. Kata is a demonstration of different recognized karate forms, while Kumite is a sparring competition against another person. Yes, just like the Karate Kid movies.

In addition, 3×3 basketball and BMX biking will be added to the basketball and cycling events and several sports will include mixed team events, with men and women competing together. The 2020 Olympics has something for everyone!

Most popular Summer Olympic sports

The newcomers may get some attention, but the most popular sports don’t change much year to year. The following sports tend to draw the biggest television ratings, and are likely to be bet on.

Track & Field (also known as Athletics)

Friday, July 31 – Sunday, August 8

Men and Women – Featured events

  • 100 meter dash
  • 400 meter race
  • 800 meter race
  • 10,000 meter race
  • Marathon
  • 110 and 400 meter hurdles
  • 4×100 and 4×400 relay races
  • High Jump
  • Pole Vault
  • Long Jump
  • Triple Jump
  • Shot Put
  • Discus
  • Javelin
  • Decathlon

Swimming

Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1

Men and Women 

  • 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500 meter freestyle
  • 100, 200 meter backstroke
  • 100, 200 meter breaststroke
  • 100, 200 meter butterfly
  • 200, 400 meter individual medley
  • 4×100, 4×200 meter freestyle relay
  • 4×100 meter medley relay
  • 10 kilometer (!!) marathon swim

Gymnastics

Saturday, July 24 – Tuesday, August 3

Men’s events 

  • All-around, Team
  • All-around, Individual
  • Floor Exercise
  • Horizontal Bar
  • Parallel Bars
  • Pommel Horse
  • Rings
  • Vault

Women’s events 

  • All-around, Team
  • All-around, Individual
  • Balance Beam
  • Floor Exercise
  • Uneven Bars
  • Vault

Additional popular Olympic sports

While those sports are the top three, there are several additional popular sports closely followed here in America:

Basketball

Men’s teams competing in Tokyo (odds from TwinSpires)

  • Argentina +4000
  • Australia +1500
  • Czech Republic +8000
  • France +1400
  • Germany +20000
  • Iran +100000
  • Italy +5000
  • Japan +200000
  • Nigeria +4000
  • Slovenia +2000
  • Spain +500
  • USA -286

Golf

Four men and four women will represent the USA in golf at the Olympics, which will take place at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kasahata, Saitama, Japan.

Men

  • Justin Thomas
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Bryson DeChambeau
  • Xander Schauffele

Women

  • Nelly Korda
  • Jessica Korda (yes, they are sisters)
  • Danielle Kang
  • Lexi Thompson

Soccer

Men’s Olympic soccer is actually a U-23 tournament, so not all professionals are eligible to play like in basketball or other sports. Men’s Olympic soccer has never carried a great deal of weight, but the women’s competition is highly regarded and is considered the second-most prestigious women’s soccer tournament behind the Women’s World Cup. Once again, the USA women’s team is stacked and is the prohibitive favorite (-134) to bring home a gold medal.

All other Olympic sports

Other Olympic sports are both interesting and exciting. Throw betting in the mix and you’ve got an enticing recipe. They include:

  • Cycling (road, track, mountain, BMX)
  • Badminton
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Archery
  • Canoeing
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Handball
  • Field Hockey
  • Judo
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Table Tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

Athletes to watch

As is the case with every Olympics, there will be no shortage of stars emerging from the competition. Everyone can name Olympic stars in the biggest events, and Olympic champions always become heroes in their home countries. Here are the top athletes we expect to see and hear a lot from during the two weeks in Tokyo.

Katie Ledecky – Swimming

Katie Ledecky is already a swimming sensation, having won a total of 5 gold medals over her Olympic career. She will be back in Tokyo, her third Olympics at just 24 years of age, once again the odds-on favorite to take home hardware.

Caeleb Dressel – Swimming

Caeleb Dressel is an emerging swimming star who is expected to compete for several gold medals in both individual and relay races. He will be heavily featured during the extensive television coverage of the swimming events. Is he the heir apparent to Michael Phelps? Six gold medals at the 2019 World Championships say it’s possible.

Simone Biles – Gymnastics

The greatest female gymnast in history needs no introduction. Simone Biles is back for another Olympics, and is a big favorite to win every female competition. She has been the All-Around World Champion every year since 2013, aside from 2017 when she did not compete. She is widely expected to continue her reign as champion during this year’s Tokyo games.

Eliud Kipchoge – Marathon

The defending Olympic Champion, Eliud Kipchoge is both a marathon world record holder (2:01:39) and the first man to *unofficially* run sub 2 hours (1:59:40 on a closed course). He is definitely the man to beat during this year’s Olympic marathon.

USWNT Soccer

Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and Alex Morgan lead the star-studded US women’s Olympic soccer team as they work to defend their 2016 gold medal. As mentioned, they are the favorites to do so and hope to make quick work of their opponents.

NBA players on Olympic teams

Per usual, many NBA players are representing their respective countries during the basketball competition at the Tokyo Olympics. Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, and Jayson Tatum headline Team USA, but other top NBA players such as Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Rudy Gobert (France), Rui Hachimura (Japan), and Patty Mills (Australia) will be representing their countries as well.

Will there be spectators at the 2020 Olympics?

The 2020 Olympics (held in 2021) will be like no other for several reasons, most notably because it will be held during a declared State of Emergency in Tokyo, the host city. This comes after more than a year of controversy and hand-wringing over whether to hold the delayed games at all. According to public polling, throughout 2020 and 2021 a sizable majority of residents in the host country of Japan remained steadfastly opposed to the games being held. This clearly conflicted with the desire of Japanese elected officials and Olympic Committee members who insisted that the games could be held safely and securely. In the end, the leaders went ahead with the games, but it was announced that there will be no fans at any of the events held in Tokyo because of the aforementioned State of Emergency declaration.

When do the Olympics start and how can I watch?

The Tokyo Olympics begin on Wednesday, July 21, because soccer, softball, and baseball need more than 16 days to finish due to rest days between games. The official opening ceremonies are on Friday, July 23. Closing ceremonies are 16 days later on Sunday, August 8.

Streaming the Olympics

Once again, the Olympics can be seen in the USA on the NBC Universal family of networks, which includes NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA, the Golf Channel,  and the aptly named Olympic Channel. Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, will also have some exclusive live content. All the other channels are carried by most cable providers and streaming services (YouTube TV, Sling, Fubo, etc.). If you have cut the cord and want to stream the Olympics, your best bet may be to sign up for Peacock and pay $5/month, as it may net you the most coverage you can find without cable (or a cable alternative).

Tape Delayed Television Coverage

One thing to consider when deciding on which events to wager on is the time the event is taking place. Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of New York, so 8 p.m. in New York is 9 a.m. the next morning in Tokyo. Most events will take place in the daytime and evening Tokyo time, which is the middle of the night in America. Primetime coverage here in America will consist of a mix of live and tape-delayed events, which may not be ideal for wagering purposes.

For example, on Sunday, August 1, Peacock will stream the day’s gymnastics and track events live…beginning at 4:00 a.m. ET. The events will be shown on NBC in prime time on a tape delay at 9:00 p.m. ET. Live coverage at 4:00 a.m. is great news for early risers and insomniacs, but is bad for general fans of the Olympics and bettors who go to bed at a more traditional hour.

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