The 2020 Olympics have been rescheduled for July 2021. If the Olympics aren’t rescheduled again, then this summer will be a cathartic moment of international competition. Coming together to celebrate the world’s best athletes will feel like yet another triumph over the pandemic. (However, vaccine iniquities around the world will probably dampen the otherwise triumphant atmosphere. Not everyone is recovering at the pace that we are.)
But Olympic Games mean Olympic sports betting. Since it’s not available year-round, bettors may be wondering whether it’ll be available in their states. Well, here’s where Olympic sports betting stands in major sports betting markets around the country.
States That Allow And Disallow Olympics Betting
Most states allow betting on the Olympics. In our sample of eight large sports betting markets, six of them allowed it:
The summer and winter Olympics are major international events with many entranced viewers. It makes sense for states to allow Olympic sports betting. However, there were two holdouts in our sample which offer important insights about sports betting in the United States.
The States That Prohibit Olympics Betting
The two states in our sample that didn’t allow Olympic sports betting: Illinois and Virginia. In Illinois’ case, Olympics aren’t included in the sports betting bill or the list of approved events. However, an operator could request that Olympics be added to the approved events list. It’s not there yet, but it’s easy to see how it could be quite soon.
Virginia is a little different. Virginia’s Lottery’s Deputy Gaming Compliance Director was concerned about Olympic sports betting because some minors participated in the Olympics. She had concerns about verifying young athletes’ ages in the Olympics.
It’s a common type of concern among people who feel squeamish about sports betting and even gambling expansion. It’s an overblown concern about widespread fraud and integrity. Olympic athletes’ ages are clear both at the time of the event and the time the lines are offered leading up to it. Sportsbooks can adjust accordingly to ensure their wagers don’t put money on minors. There are more than enough prop bets on how many medals different countries will win to make up for lost bets on minors.
A stronger version of her argument would be that relying on sportsbook operators’ good judgments are unreliable ways to enforce ethical sports betting. However, even beefing her argument up doesn’t make it strong. She may have misgivings about private companies freely embracing strong ethics. But she doesn’t have to worry about all sportsbooks–just the ones covered under Virginia law. A Virginia sportsbook that wanted to offer bets on minors couldn’t under Virginia’s sports betting bill. Virginian jurisdiction seems to demolish that concern.
Olympics Sports Betting
Most states will allow sportsbooks to offer betting lines on the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. However, there are a few holdouts. For example, Illinois doesn’t include it in its approved events list. But the law leaves room for Olympic sports betting to be approved. Virginia officials have voiced specific concerns about Olympic sports betting. But even the best version of their arguments against it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Virginia law and lottery officials can keep sportsbooks from offering lines on underage Olympic athletes.
But for most of the country with legal sports betting, Olympic sports betting will offer one more betting opportunity. Keep an eye out for Olympic lines as summer approaches, and subscribe to our newsletter for more updates.