As more markets welcome online sports betting, additional sports and leagues are beginning to take notice. Many of the most popular sports — including football, baseball, soccer, hockey, basketball, golf, tennis, and others — are already bettable at most sportsbooks.
As sports betting continues on its growth path, it could help spur other sports to formally organize, form leagues, and potentially join the sportsbook fold.
It takes a lot of effort for a sport to become available at sportsbooks, though. You need a solid structure, to meet regulatory requirements, and to be able to offer a lot of data to sports betting providers.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Many sports are well on their way to becoming bettable at major sports betting sites. Below, I explore five sports or games that would be a blast to bet on. Keep in mind that this is not an indication the games will become available on sportsbooks soon, or ever. But hey, we can dream!
My sister bought me a Crokinole board for my birthday last year, and I quickly became obsessed.
It’s a dexterity-based game of skill with simple rules. Yet it’s difficult to master. Crokinole involves flicking wooden discs onto a waxed wooden board in the hopes of landing them in the center hole or one of the other point-scoring fields. It gets tricky, though, because as long as your opponent has a disc on the board, you are required to hit their disc with yours, or your shot is invalid and your disc removed from the board.
The result is a cutthroat game that requires a balance of self-advantageous play and screwing over your opponent whenever possible. At high levels of play, Crokinole players can sink 20-point shots back to back, meaning any minor error can result in a big swing for the opposing player.
Shut Up and Sit Down has an excellent primer video if you’re curious about how the game works. I also recommend checking out tournament videos on YouTube. They’re especially fun because it’s just regular folks duking it out over the hexagonal board.
That’s part of what would make Crokinole so fun to bet on. Anyone can play and get good. Any player could theoretically train up to take down a pro, though like with any game, it’d take years of effort and training.
If Crokinole ever makes its way to sportsbooks, there’d be a surplus of bettable events, including live betting on the result of the next shot, point scorer for a particular round, and of course, outright winner.
Perhaps you know of Spikeball from its appearance on Shark Tank (it didn’t get an investment, but Mark Cuban has said he regrets passing on it). Or perhaps you’ve seen the iconic black and yellow net apparatus at your local park or beach. It’s practically ubiquitous at this point. Plus, Spikeball has worked wonders, bringing its sport to prominence by creating leagues and tournaments to elevate play.
Spikeball is basically circular volleyball, but the net is on the ground, and teams have to hit the ball into it, putting the burden on the opposing team to do the same. The game creates quickfire rallies and explosive plays, often requiring players to lay out for a save. Spikeball’s mechanics allow players to manufacture kills and trick opponents into precarious positioning.
Of all the competitions on this list, I think Spikeball is the closest to becoming a sport you can bet on. It’s probably a long way off, but the bones are there. Betting on rallies and matches seems like a perfect fit for Spikeball, and I hope the league’s hard work bringing it to the public eye pays off in the future.
Talk about a pipe dream! I’ve long been a fan of “Survivor” (yes, it’s still on, and yes, it is amazing). I’ve even gone so far as to write about “Survivor” being the perfect reality show for fantasy fans.
TV shows are tough territory for betting. Their nature makes it inherently difficult. This is especially true for “Survivor” because it’s taped months before it airs. But I can still hope! Remove the existing issues with a pre-taped show, and “Survivor” is just about perfect for betting. You’ve got built-in futures markets — Who will win? Will a certain player make the merge? Over/Under 2 individual immunity wins by a player — and plenty of episodic bets. You could even spice things up with bets like “the number of times Jeff Probst laughs in this episode.”
I know this is far from likely, but I enjoy the thought exercise. Some platforms, however, such as free-to-play sportsbook oddFlex, do allow for “Survivor” predictions.
For now, that’ll have to do. Well, that and my fantasy “Survivor” league!
The formula: take golf, remove the clubs and balls. Add a miniature flying saucer. Bada-bing, bada-boom, you’ve got disc golf, or as some call it, frolf.
I’m being flippant in that description, of course. Disc golf is a widely respected sport, and many enjoy it as a way to get outdoors and play a low-stakes game with their friends. But the stakes ramp up fast when it’s a Professional Disc Golf Association-sanctioned event. There are professionals. There’s a whole economy for discs and carrying cases. Parks across the country have installed courses, bringing rookies and veterans alike to new areas to enjoy the game.
Disc golf seems well on its way to increased popularity. Whether that will translate to betting on it remains to be seen. The sport has a governing body and plenty of sanctioned tournaments, so there’s hope for disc-golf fans eager to place wagers on the sport.
My advice to you: look up Sepak Takraw (sometimes called Kick Volleyball). You won’t regret it. The sport is a combination of soccer, volleyball, and martial arts. It’s played like volleyball, only players can’t use their hands or arms (thus the “kick volleyball” moniker). This sets the stage for some positively insane plays, including rainbow-kick spikes and light-speed reactions from defending players.
Some international sportsbooks seem to cover Sepak Takraw, though they aren’t available in the states. The sport has been around for a while, but it has yet to pick up real traction in the betting community. It’s a niche, as it requires abilities far beyond the reach of most other athletes. It’s geared towards martial artists and draws upon many of the same skills.
I don’t expect Sepak Takraw to break into the US sports betting scene any time soon, but it’s entertaining as hell to watch. If it ever makes a splash stateside and becomes bettable, I’ll hammer a few bets out on the fast-paced sport.