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Professional sports and gambling: Victorious mutual support


Modern sport is, first of all, professional sport. It is the competitions of professional athletes and teams that attract the attention of fans from all over the world. National, continental, and world championships, as well as the summer and winter Olympiads, are the most covered sports events in the media and blogger streams, and the total number of observers can reach hundreds of millions simultaneously, as it was not so long ago at the 2022 World Cup.


Despite all the fears of the fans, last year’s World Cup (2022 World Cup) set a record in terms of preparation costs (Qatar spent about USD 200 billion on organizing sports and tourism infrastructure) and in terms of surprising results and spectacular matches. The 2022 World Cup also became the most closed event due to strict restrictions on alcohol consumption in public places, particularly, in stadiums, making numerous football fans stay home and watch matches there. According to FIFA, over 1.5 billion people watched the World Cup final between Argentina and France, representing 20% of the world’s population.


Sports have long been an integral part of the global entertainment industry, and thanks to modern communication technologies, we can watch competitions online from any place in the world and join in predicting the results, particularly, using the services of betting companies that are also sponsors of both individual players and entire teams.


The unusual timing and conditions of the 2022 World Cup have made the traditional process of predicting the competition results quite difficult and the results unpredictable. However, perhaps this very unpredictability led to record (compared to previous world championships) bets on each game results. It is because, after the unexpected victory of the Saudi Arabian team over Argentina (2:1), everyone became interested in what fantastic numbers on the scoreboard (what match scores) there would be.


Before the 2022 World Cup, I already cited data that bookmakers would have record numbers, and this forecast turned out to be 100% true: during the World Cup (in terms of player involvement in the game), bets were made by 13% more than at the 2018 World Cup. The gathering of final economic data is still underway, but OpenBet provided preliminary results of the gambling fans’ financial activity, and these results should be used in the initial estimates.


For instance, according to OpenBet, engagement rates among European gamblers broke a record, surpassing the 2018 World Cup rates by 22%. In North America, the 2022 World Cup bets more than doubled the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. In total, more than 12 million bets were made on the US team, raising more than USD 100 million.


Let me note that last year’s World Cup was the last one with 32 teams. The next 2026 World Cup, that will be held in the USA, Canada, and Mexico, will be held according to the new scheme with 48 participants. Accordingly, the number of forecasts and the amount of work done by betting companies will increase. And this encourages them to sponsor the preparation of teams more actively.


It is how professional sports and betting develop together, providing fans with positive emotions from spectacular competitions and supporting their favourite teams. Simultaneously, the entertainment industry is becoming more powerful and widespread.


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