Survey: Half of American Sports Fans Plan to Bet on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar

  • BettorOff found that 49% of sports fans plan to bet on the World Cup
  • Many respondents also plan to continue watching soccer after the tournament
  • Team USA has its best team in years and could make a deep run
  • The 2026 World Cup in North America should create more soccer fans
World Cup trophy
A new survey found that nearly half of American sports fans will bet on the upcoming World Cup. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

World Cup gathering new fans

A recent survey revealed that roughly half of American sports fans are planning on betting on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

49% of the 1,500 showed interest in betting on World Cup matches or futures

The survey, conducted by BettorOff, was comprised of 1,500 self-titled “sports fans” in states with legal sports betting markets. 49% of the 1,500 showed interest in betting on World Cup matches or futures, a surprising figure for a sport that is less popular in America than in many other countries.

The once-every-four-years tournament kicks off on November 20 and will run until December 18. Teams start in eight groups of four and will play every team in their group before the top two teams in each group advance to a single-elimination bracket, at which point they will compete until one team is left standing.

Soccer’s prevalence in America 

The global popularity of the World Cup has never been in question. FIFA estimated that over one billion people watched the 2018 Final match between France and Croatia, which went 4-2 in favor of Les Bleus.

The heavy interest in World Cup betting from an American audience is, however, quite surprising. 18% of respondents said that their plans to bet on the competition will mark the first time they have bet on any soccer match.

Major League Soccer (MLS) is the most competitive soccer league in America but pales in comparison to other top leagues across the world, namely the English Premier League, Spanish LaLiga, and German Bundesliga.

this could be a fruitful tournament for the Americans

That being said, this could be a fruitful tournament for the Americans, which could cause an even greater drive in bettor participation. Team USA heads into the tournament positioned as the 16th-best team in FIFA’s global rankings, whereas they were 25th around this time four years ago. Four years before that, they were 28th.

74% of the respondents indicated they would use the World Cup as a launching pad for their soccer fandom and would keep up with soccer more regularly after the tournament concludes.

Future growth likely

There has been a steady push to drive the popularity of soccer in America in the 21st century. That effort will be met with widespread visibility in 2026 when the World Cup makes its way to North America, with most of the matches being played throughout the United States, in addition to Mexico and Canada.

When that time comes, soccer betting and soccer itself figure to gain a massive following, meaning that likely bettors would be behooved to start paying attention now.

exciting intersection of interest and opportunity surrounding the World Cup”

“There is an exciting intersection of interest and opportunity surrounding the World Cup,” said BettorOff CEO and founder Alex Dubin. “As pro soccer and online sports betting explode across the US, we expect this World Cup to be a tipping point for soccer fans and bettors across the country.”

The 2018 World Cup produced a worldwide betting handle of $146bn. For comparison, that’s nearly three-fifths of Portugal’s GDP.

During World Cup time in 2018, only three states – Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey – had legal sports betting markets. That number has ballooned to 36, of which 31 have active markets, with Maryland soon to join the online fold

The most popular sports betting event in America is traditionally the Super Bowl. World Cup gamblers will have to overcome an enormous handle to set a new record, but there is no doubt that this will be a defining moment for the future of soccer betting in America.