The sports gambling business — legal and illegal — is worth several hundred billion dollars worldwide. Of that, only $2.6 billion is wagered legitimately in the U.S. through the sports desks at Las Vegas casinos. According to 24/7 Wall St. research, most of the bets are placed on just 22 of the 122 teams in the four major leagues.
The amount and number of these bets is a closely kept secret. Even the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, which regulates betting in the state, has only partial figures on major league sports gambling. 24/7 Wall St interviewed regulators, casino sports desk management, and people in the online bookmaking and Internet gambling businesses to find out which professional teams drew the most gambling action in the last full season of the four major leagues. Jay Rood, VP of Race and Sports at the MGM Resorts Intl, was a particularly helpful source.
The four major leagues have 122 teams among them. Sporting desk managers define gambling action based on the total volume of bets made for or against any given team. They do not track illegal sports gambling and there are no reasonable estimates of illegal betting amounts. 24/7 was able to compile a list of the major league teams Americans bet on most: five NFL teams, five NBA teams, six NHL teams and six MLB teams.
24/7 Wall St. also wanted to see if there is a correlation between the level of betting on a team and any other statistics about the organization. Betting action was most correlated with team valuations, which came from Forbes, win-loss records, and attendance trends, which came from the leagues and each of the teams. The teams that draw the most gambling are, in almost all cases, organizations that have high revenue within their sports, teams with decade-long track records of winning, and, in some cases, several years of improvements in attendance. More From 24/7 Wall Street: America’s Most Overpaid CEOs 12 Major League Sports Teams Running Out Of Fans 9 States Slashing Unemployment Benefits The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.