The 10 most addictive sports for gamblers



It is estimated by YouGov that as many as 1.4 million people in the UK have a gambling addiction. The same report also finds that 3.6 million people have reported the negative effects of someone else’s gambling addiction. That adds up to a whopping 5 million people in Britain being negatively impacted by the harm caused by gambling.

Sport, of course, is the basis upon which most gambling is linked, so with the return of the Premier League looming, we thought it would be useful to take a look at the biggest sports associated with gambling addiction and the important place occupied by football and the Premier League. But before doing so, we’d like to stress here that gambling can become a terrible addiction that destroys lives, and would urge those who are tempted to gamble to refrain from doing so.



It is estimated that the global sports betting industry is worth somewhere in the region of $3 trillion, and more than half of this figure is believed to be spent on illegal gambling.
Of the sports that the people bet on, football or soccer as it is known in the US is way out in front. But then this shouldn’t surprise us, as it is the world’s biggest sport. The one single tournament that draws the largest volume of bets is, of course, the FIFA World Cup, which takes place every four years. With 210 countries competing from the outset, the scope for worldwide betting is gargantuan, and it is estimated that each World Cup tournament attracts in excess of $260 million in placed bets.

Other leagues that are popular with gamblers over here include La Liga of Spain and La Lega of Italy. Then, of course, there’s the Champions League, which attracts gamblers from the UK, particularly when teams from the UK’s Premier League are included.
With the rising popularity of women’s professional football and the recent success of the England Lionesses, one of its unfortunate consequences might very well be that we see even more football-associated gambling.



Horse racing

The world’s second most popular sport to bet on is horse racing, which has attracted gamblers worldwide for well over a century. Today, though now behind football, it nonetheless attracts vast sums of money – particularly in countries like Singapore, Malaysia, the UK, the US, and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong alone it raised 136.1 billion Hong Kong dollars in 2021. Here in the UK, despite Covid 19, horse racing managed to raise £1.04 billion between April and September 2020, with events such as Royal Ascot, the Grand National, and Epsom Derby all drawing sizeable wagers. In the US, events including the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup all see large sums placed on bets. Needless to say, if you ever feel the urge to gamble on horses regularly, we would strongly advise you to seek help before addiction takes hold.




The world’s third most popular sport among gamblers is basketball. It is estimated by the American Gaming Association that around $10 billion is gambled on the single-elimination tournament March Madness alone. This contest sees 68 teams contesting over seven rounds in a month with the hope of becoming national champions. Of this $10 billion, however, the gaming analyst Eilers & Krejcik believes that only around 3% of these wagers are gambled legally. The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the largest competition for the sport and the NBA season runs from October to July. This unusually long season provides many opportunities for gamblers to place bets and chase their losses.




As the world’s most popular individual sport, it’s little wonder that tennis comes fourth in the global gambling rankings. Besides being popular, it also hosts a staggering number of tennis tournaments every year. To be precise, the International Tennis Federation holds no fewer than 1,500, which comprise around 93,000 matches. The biggest include the Australian Open, French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon. The Wimbledon tournament here in the UK is the most prestigious competition in the international tennis calendar. During the contest, more than 1 billion people can be expected to tune in. While tennis is often enjoyed by families and associated with picnics and socialising in the summer season, when Andy Murray made it to the final in 2012, the bookmakers Betfair saw £58 million of bets placed on that one game.




In recent years cricket has attracted large sums in gambling. During the 2019 Cricket World Cup, one match between India and Bangladesh saw £17 million of bets placed on that one game through just one legal betting platform based in the UK. During the Indian Premier League final £71 million in bets were placed through the same betting platform.



American football

In terms of viewers, American Football has become America’s most popular sport. Not to be confused with soccer or football, American football is played both professionally and at college level, and its national tournament is the National Football League (NFL). Its league games culminate in the Superbowl in which two finalists battle it out. American football is the most popular sport to bet on in the US.




While golf may seem like a calm game, it is responsible for many opportunities for gamblers to indulge. Golf is becoming an increasingly popular sport among gamblers and appears mainly on casino websites. With 78 players playing at any one moment over periods of three to four days, there are a plethora of betting options and opportunities. The major events for the sport include the US Open, British Open, Masters, PGA Tournaments and team events like the Ryder Cup.




The rugby World Cup is the sport’s biggest event, followed by the Six Nations Championship in Europe played between the countries of the Northern Hemisphere: England, Ireland, France, Scotland, Wales and Italy. Added to these are the various special trophies like the Triple Crown, Calcutta Cup, and the Rugby Championship – all of which are becoming increasingly popular contests for gamblers. But we would remind readers that gambling is a life-destroying addiction that should be avoided at all costs.




Boxing has long been a sport associated with gambling. Today, of course, there are other forms of fighting sports such as mixed martial arts (MMA), and competitions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship and One Championship, both of which are growing and attracting more money in the form of betting.




With the advent of the internet, video games and the advancement of digital technology, the world of competitive virtual gaming known as e-sport has seen massive growth in recent years and has spawned a community of successful e-sport players who have become lucrative earners. On the back of this, the betting world now offers e-sports to their rostrum of sports on which gamblers can place bets. Among the many e-sports, one can now place bets on are League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and DOTA – to name just a handful. Naturally, we would advise you to resist any desire to gamble and to seek help if you think you are becoming addicted.



Stay safe for the football season

In the UK, sports betting, according to the UK’s Gambling Commission, is the most popular form of gambling with around 35% of all money from gambling spent on it either online or through physical gambling establishments. The UK gambling scene is dominated by football, which is comfortably the number one sport for gamblers. And as home to the Premier League, arguably the most important league in the world, football gambling over here has firmly taken root. Indeed, there is something of a psychological aspect to this homegrown gambling, as gamblers in the UK will often have very strong sentimental attachment to their favourite teams. This in itself will invariably fuel the excitement of betting and will in many cases be a form of wish-fulfilment, so we advise you to be cautious this football season.

If you feel you are struggling with betting, it isn’t impossible to put matters right. Call us today for confidential support.