Olympics Betting Guide: Beijing 2022

It’s already time for the 2022 Winter Olympics. To answer your question, yes, the summer Olympics were just held in Tokyo last July. Those Olympics were scheduled to occur in July 2020, but because of COVID, they were moved to 2021. As of now, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will kick off as scheduled on February 2, 2022. This means that the viewing public will be treated to two Olympics games in the span of just six months. 

The Beijing Winter Olympics will be unprecedented because of many reasons, the biggest being the fact that Beijing is the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic games. This is unusual because most cities that host the Summer Olympics aren’t close to the mountains. Well, Beijing isn’t close to the mountains either, but it does have existing Olympic-level facilities and infrastructure that have been converted from summer to winter sports venues. 

The mountains are a couple of hours away from downtown Beijing, and all the venues are accessible by a new high-speed train built specifically for the games. The organizers have divided up the events into three zones: the Beijing Zone, Yanqing Zone, and Zhangjiakou Zone. Each zone has its own Olympic Village and will host several different events. 

This page is your official guide on how to navigate the myriad betting opportunities available during the two weeks of the winter 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 Beijing, and more. Let’s get started.

Can I legally wager on the 2022 Winter Olympics?

Yes! Sports betting is now legal in 30 states, and betting on the Olympics is allowed in most of them. PASPA, the federal law that prevented new states from legalizing sports betting, was overturned by the Supreme Court in May 2018. Since then, states have been able to enact their own sports betting laws, and each new legislative session has brought more progress and more widespread access to legal, regulated betting. The Tokyo Games were the first Olympics in which fans in most states outside of Nevada could legally wager on the events. Betting interest was sizable and the handle was strong and steady, resulting in additional revenue for the sportsbooks during the normally slow summer months.

The last Winter Olympics took place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February 2018, a few months before PASPA was overturned. As such, the Beijing games will be the first winter Olympics in which fans can legally bet on the events. 

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Which states allow betting on the Olympics?

Thirty (30) states plus Washington, DC, have legalized or currently offer legal sports betting. Every state is different, with some offering online and retail betting, some having retail betting only, and three (Virginia, Tennessee, and Wyoming) 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 sports like MLB, NHL, NCAA Football and Basketball, and the PGA Tour.

Wagering on the winter Olympics is no different. Most states have authorized betting on the winter 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?

Every sportsbook takes a different approach to the Olympics. Some sportsbooks avoid offering wagers on judged events because of the possibility of corruption. Both the summer and winter Olympics have several judged events. Winter Olympic events that are judged include figure skating, freestyle skiing, ski jumping, and some snowboarding events. Of course, figure skating is by far the most popular winter Olympic event, so we wouldn’t be surprised if most sportsbooks end up putting at least some of the judged events, including figure skating, on their bet boards.  

Since this is the first winter Olympics with widespread wagering opportunities, every sportsbook will be eager to test the public’s appetite for winter sports wagering opportunities. Some will go all-in while others may not offer Olympics betting at all. Be sure to check with your preferred sportsbook to see which Olympic events are offered.

So many sports!

There are 109 medal events spread out among 15 winter Olympic sports this year, 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 winter Olympic sports is unknown since we have never had a winter Olympics with legal betting available in states outside of Nevada. Some books may start out slow and add 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 have 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
USATBDTBD
ChinaTBDTBD
NorwayTBDTBD
GermanyTBDTBD
CanadaTBDTBD
NetherlandsTBDTBD
SwedenTBDTBD

All Olympic sports markets

SportMenWomen
Alpine SkiingYesYes
BobsleighYesYes
BiathlonYesYes
Cross-country SkiingYesYes
CurlingYesYes
Freestyle SkiingTBDTBD
Figure SkatingYesYes
Ice HockeyYesYes
LugeTBDTBD
Nordic CombinedYesN/A
SnowboardingTBDTBD
Ski JumpingYesYes
SkeletonTBDTBD
Speed SkatingYesYes
Short Track Speed SkatingYesYes

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.

Popular markets and prices will be added when they are listed on BetMGM and other sportsbooks. This section will be updated.

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. We will let you know when/if they post markets on Olympic events. 

This section will be updated as individual sportsbooks announce their plans for Olympics wagering

Most popular winter Olympic sports

The most popular Olympic sports don’t change much year to year. The following winter Olympic sports tend to draw the biggest television ratings and are also likely to garner the most interest among sports bettors.

Figure Skating

Of course, figure skating, specifically women’s figure skating, is the most popular winter Olympic sport. One could argue it is the overall most popular Olympic sport. Millions of fans tune in to see the skaters flawlessly execute the most daring jumps and moves. It’s also the only time when one can use the term “triple salchow” in conversation without raising an eyebrow. And the storylines are just as good as the action on the ice. 

Figure skating will never be as popular as it was in 1994 when the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding drama reached its peak during the short skate session when an incredible 126.5 million viewers tuned in to a tape-delayed broadcast. To put that staggering number into context, the highest-rated Super Bowl of all time garnered 114 million viewers. 

There is no doubt that figure skating will dominate the American headlines and television coverage during the 2022 Beijing games, as it has done during every winter Olympics. 

Hockey

Canadians love Olympic hockey even more than Americans love figure skating. This is the big one for our friends up north. The 2010 gold medal game between Canada and the U.S. was the highest-rated television program in the history of Canada. Over 80% of the country watched at least part of the game. Of course, Canada won that game and is the favorite to win gold in Beijing. 

We aren’t sure yet if NHL players will participate in the hockey competition. If they don’t end up going over for the games, it will change the dynamic considerably, particularly for the Canadian and US national teams which are scheduled to be stacked with NHL stars. Either way, hockey will be a popular choice for both viewing and wagering.  

Alpine (downhill) Skiing

Watching someone fly down a mountain going over 70 miles per hour on a pair of skis is compelling, to say the least, which is why downhill skiing is always a fan favorite. Add to that the scenic beauty of the surrounding mountains and it is must-see television. Beijing is not known as a mountain city, but the country of China has many mountain ranges and tremendous natural beauty. The alpine skiing events should be the most-watched and most wagered on events outside of hockey and figure skiing. 

Additional popular winter Olympic sports

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

Curling – On the other end of the chaos spectrum is curling, a popular Olympic sport that is about as calm as a sport can get. There is some yelling, but it is mostly from the captain instructing how hard the broomsmen should be pushing their brooms. Its flow and relative calmness belie the tremendous amount of skill needed to direct the curling stones to their intended target. Curling always sees a jump in popularity during the Olympics, and 2022 will be no different. 

Freestyle skiing – Another relatively new Olympic sport, freestyle skiing events are heart-pounding fun. Moguls, ski-cross, aerials, halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air make up the freestyle collection. These events are especially popular among younger sports fans and are a must-see part of the Olympics.

Short track speed skating – Short track speed skating is a thrilling, chaotic mess that takes a back seat to no event in terms of pure excitement. There are so many variables and the sport is so dangerous that it’s often anyone’s guess which team will end up winning, particularly in the team races, which makes it fun to watch and difficult to handicap. 

Snowboarding – A relative newcomer to the winter Olympics, snowboarding events have taken the Olympics by storm, just as snowboarding itself took the relatively staid skiing industry by storm back in the 1990s. Shaun White, the most famous Olympic snowboarder in history, is back again to try and add more medals to his impressive collection. Chloe Kim, the star female snowboarder, will also be at the Beijing games, along with the rest of the American team, most of whom will be favored to win their respective competitions. 

Speed skating – Regular speed skating is also highly entertaining, though not anywhere near as chaotic as its short track counterpart. Seeing the speed skaters glide along the ice and imagining the unreal cramping and burning in their legs as they push their bodies to the finish line is part of why the Olympics are so great. 

All other Olympic sports

Every Olympic sport is interesting and exciting. Throw betting in the mix and you’ve got an enticing recipe. The lesser-known, but just as entertaining, winter sports include:

  • Biathlon
  • Bobsleigh 
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Luge
  • Nordic Combined
  • Skeleton
  • Ski Jumping

Winter Olympic 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 Beijing.

This section will be updated when the US Olympic team is finalized

  • Shaun White – Snowboarding
  • Chloe Kim – Snowboarding
  • Mikaela Shiffrin – Alpine skiing
  • Nathan Chen – Figure skating
  • Jessie Diggins – Cross-country skiing
  • Taylor Gold – Snowboarding
  • Elena Meyers Taylor – Bobsleigh
  • Alex Ferreira – Freestyle skiing
  • David Wise – Freestyle skiing
  • Chasey Josey – Snowboarding
  • Vicky Persinger/Chris Plys – Mixed doubles curling
  • Carlo Valdes – Bobsledding
  • Breezy Johnson – Alpine skiing
  • Kallie Humphries – Bobsledding
  • Jason Brown – Figure skating
  • Jamie Anderson – Snowboarding
  • Brock Crouch – Snowboarding

Will there be spectators at the 2022 Winter Olympics?

The 2022 Winter Olympics is, unfortunately, the second Olympics to be held during the COVID pandemic, which is still affecting people worldwide. COVID will likely affect several aspects of the games, including whether certain athletes will decide to compete and whether facilities will be at full capacity. You may recall that the Tokyo games did not have any spectators at the events, which was a big bummer that affected fan interest and television ratings. 

The good news is that there will be fans in the stands at the 2022 Winter Olympics. The bad news for those who wanted to make the trip is that only mainland Chinese citizens will be able to attend the Games. No foreign visitors will be allowed to attend any events. Of course, because China has the largest population of any country in the world, finding people to fill the seats won’t be a problem. This is a great opportunity for the country’s citizens to become more engaged with winter sports, which are not very popular in the country unless you count NBA basketball as a winter sport. 

Olympic political conflict

We tend to avoid politics here at SportsHandle, but we would be remiss not to mention the diplomatic controversy surrounding the Beijing winter games. Many human rights organizations and some countries are concerned with China’s treatment of some of its citizens, specifically the Muslim Uyghur population in the country’s northwestern corner. The United States has publicly stated that China’s treatment of the Uyghurs amounts to genocide, and many human rights agencies are more than a little alarmed about China’s treatment of many of its people, not least the Uyghurs.

This has resulted in the United States declaring a diplomatic boycott for the Beijing games, which means that the US will not be sending any diplomats or high-ranking government officials to the country during the Olympics. This is a significant escalation even if it doesn’t sound like that big of a big deal, and China is very upset about the move. Most countries tend to avoid political conflict, particularly related to global events like the Olympics. A few countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, have followed the lead of the US and also announced a diplomatic boycott, but most countries are avoiding the issue altogether.

A diplomatic boycott is different than a full-on Olympics boycott. All American athletes that qualify for the games are expected and encouraged to compete in Beijing, and there is no real pressure for them to boycott. American government officials won’t be there to watch them compete in person, but of course, the games will be live on television and the diplomatic issues will be covered by NBC but likely won’t be the focal point of the games.

When do the Olympics start and how can I watch?

The Beijing Winter Olympics begin on Wednesday, February 2, because curling, hockey, and freestyle skiing need some extra time to finish their competitions. The official opening ceremonies are on Friday, February 4. Closing ceremonies are 16 days later on Sunday, February 20.

Time zone confusion

Beijing is 13 hours ahead of those in the Eastern time zone. That makes the city 16 hours ahead of those of us in the Pacific time zone. The time zone issue results in a lot of confusion and events taking place in the middle of the night here in America. All dates on this page will be local time rather than US time to eliminate any confusion. For example, the Opening Ceremonies is scheduled for the evening of February 4 in Beijing, which is February 3 here in the States. We will list that as of February 4 rather than February 3. This is what happens when major sporting events take place in Asia. So remember that all dates are Beijing time, not US time. 

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, and the aptly named Olympic Channel. Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, will also have some exclusive live content. All 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. Beijing is 13 hours ahead of New York, so 8 p.m. in New York is 9 a.m. there. Most events will take place in the daytime and evening Beijing 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. Those on the west coast and Hawaii will be able to see many live Olympics events in prime time, but east coasters will have to stay up late or wait until the next morning to watch their favorite Olympic events.

Super Bowl and the Olympics, together at last

One interesting part of the 2022 Olympics is that it starts earlier in February than normal (February 2), while the NFL season wraps up a week later in February than normal (February 13). This will result in a first-time Super Bowl-Olympics overlap. And wouldn’t you know it, NBC has the rights to both major events. As such, NBC has decided to add Olympics coverage to the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot, which is usually reserved for a high-profile television show. This will help television ratings and may even be a boon to wagering on the games since the Super Bowl is the most bet-on event of the year. More than a few people, many of whom will have had a few pops at their Super Bowl party, will likely want to throw a few bucks down on a live sporting event after the game is over. 

 

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