The last time the FIFA World Cup was contested, in June and July of 2018, three U.S. states offered legal sports betting, to a grand total of about 10 million adult residents.
When the 2022 edition of the tournament for international soccer bragging rights kicks off in Qatar on Sunday, an estimated 132 million Americans in 31 states plus Washington, D.C., will have legal access to betting. Accordingly, a new survey from the American Gaming Association projects massive wagering numbers on the World Cup, with the majority — but not all, of course — of that gambling being done legally.
The AGA’s Morning Consult survey of 2,213 adults conducted between Nov. 3-5 resulted in estimates of 20.5 million American adults planning to bet on the World Cup, risking a total of $1.8 billion.
World Cup wagering takes many forms
Those 20.5 million Americans represent 8% of the adult population, and 29% of those who told the pollsters they plan to watch the World Cup also said they plan to wager on it. Of those who plan to bet on the event, 78% said they feel it is important that they do so legally.
Additional survey details:
- 9.8 million Americans (48% of those expecting to bet) plan to place a bet online.
- 6 million (29%) plan to place a casual bet with a friend.
- 4.7 million (23%) plan to bet at a brick-and-mortar casino sportsbook.
- 4.1 million (20%) plan to bet with an unregulated bookie.
- 3.5 million (17%) plan to bet as part of a real-money pool or fantasy contest.
The demographics reveal that betting interest on the World Cup skews young. According to the AGA, 11% of 21-and-up Generation Z-ers and 14% of Millennials plan to bet, while Gen X-ers check in at 8% and Baby Boomers at a mere 2%.
“As the first World Cup with widespread availability of legal sports betting, this will certainly be the most bet-upon soccer event ever in the U.S.,” AGA Senior Vice President Casey Clark said in a release. “With more than half of all American adults having access to legal betting options in their home market, legal sports betting will deepen American fan engagement in the most-watched sporting event in the world.”
How wisely Americans will wager their money on the World Cup remains to be seen. The survey suggested the United States will be the most popular team to bet on to win it all, with 24% of respondents saying that’s the squad they would wager on (followed by Brazil at 19%, Argentina at 17%, and Germany at 10%).