World Cup Betting: Sportsbooks Predict Wagering Handle to Double from 2010 ColumnistJune 12, 2014

Brazil's Fred celebrates his goal against Serbia at a friendly soccer match at Morumbi stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, June 6, 2014. Brazil is hosting the World Cup soccer tournament that starts June 12. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Andre Penner/Associated Press

When bets start flooding in Thursday on the World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia, it will be part of an expected huge spike in wagering that some predict will more than double the 2010 event.

One sportsbook manager has already seen the evidence at the betting window, with plenty of early World Cup wagering on futures (odds to win the tournament) and on the hundreds of prop bets circulating around betting screens.

“We expect this to be biggest World Cup ever from a wagering perspective,” Kevin Bradley, sportsbook manager at Bovada, told Thursday. “In terms of how much we will take in, we are projecting will be more than double World Cup 2010.”

In total, he expects World Cup bets to account for more than five percent of the operation’s 2014 business.


What creates such a spike?

In general, interest in sports wagering continues to grow and legal inroads in Delaware and New Jersey have kept the industry in the forefront in recent years.

More specifically, the popularity of soccer has grown in North America, with more European stars like David Beckham playing in the MLS. With popularity on the pitch, comes popularity with television networks, who have increased programming in a big way.

“In general, if it’s on TV, people will bet on it, so sportsbooks are booking a lot more soccer handle in the past few years,” said Jack Randall, an analyst at, said Thursday.

And there is more wagering product. Instead of simply betting on a game or the overall winner, more shops have introduced group betting, odds to win the Golden Boot as top World Cup scorer and hundreds of other fun prop bets.

The Super Bowl has popularized props with everything from coin toss betting to wagers on the color of Gatorade that gets dumped on the head coach of the winning team.

Brazil is a steep favorite today, with Croatia a 10-1 underdog in three-way betting (win-loss-draw odds). On Friday, one of the tournament’s early key matches goes with a rematch of the World Cup 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands.

Stats, odds courtesy of Quotes obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted.