The UK has a reputation for both loving sports and taking a relaxed attitude to betting on them. Here are some of the top sports that Britons love to bet on.
Rugby is actually two sports in the UK as there are Union and League variations. While both use the peculiar egg-shaped ball (it’s better for carrying and throwing than the spherical variety preferred by football) there are some rule differences. In addition, rugby can range from being a low-scoring slog (especially in muddy conditions) to a high-scoring game with points scored within seconds of kick off. This means a points market in rugby can be more of a challenge than in some other sports.
On the League side (mostly popular in the north) the main competition is the Super League, with the annual domestic tournament coming in the form of the Challenge Cup. Note that the top of the Super League does not determine the winner, this is instead conferred on the winner of the play-offs which involve the top six teams at the end of the regular season. Unusually, the league is mostly English but does have French sides in Toulouse Olympique and Catalans Dragons.
Union is more internationally popular hence this being the format used in the more watched version of the World Cup and the Six Nations tournament (an annual event involving England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Italy). The top division of domestic rugby union is Premiership Rugby, and its clubs can also participate in the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
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The leading light in the British sporting firmament is undoubtedly football (soccer to Americans), which is far and away the most popular sport in the country with fans from across the population. This enormous support has helped to make the EPL (English Premier League) the biggest national football league on the planet, with not only tens of millions of British fans but widespread support in countries and continents far away.
This interest also corresponds to betting behaviour, with bookies responding to it by creating literally hundreds of markets on every single Premier League match. This includes basic categories such as win/lose/draw and handicap markets through to a huge number of over/under goal markets, specials, and even the ability with many sportsbooks to request specific betting opportunities. In addition, title betting offers the chance to wager not only on who will claim the overall league victory but also who might be runner-up or finish in the top 4. In addition to the league, there’s the domestic FA Cup as well, and the Champions League always draws a betting crowd.
While most of the betting in the UK on football focuses on the EPL for obvious reasons, there is also significant wagering on the Championship, the second tier of English football. Another avenue of betting often travelled down is that of overseas top-flight leagues, with Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, and the Bundesliga of Germany proving highly appealing. These other European leagues are well-liked due to a combination of top-quality action and minimal time zone differences that make viewing matches significantly easier than leagues further afield.
Cricket has a history dating back to Tudor England and remains one of the top sports in the UK to this day. A byword for gentlemanly behaviour, it’s worth noting the ladies’ games are increasingly watched too. While having a strong cultural affinity in England, cricket, like rugby, was also successfully exported to many of the Empire’s colonies and retains popularity among many former colonies to this day (most obviously India).
The leading domestic competition in the UK is the County Championship featuring eighteen county clubs (one from Wales, the rest English). The particular intricacy of cricket, which can have tests lasting days and multi-test series, makes it perfect for a wide range of detailed markets, from the number of wides and no balls to precise scoring predictions.
Formula 1 is unusual in that it’s a truly international sport but, at the same time, much of its heart is British. A majority of teams are clustered together in one corner of England, English is the primary language of the sport, and British success has made it the leading nation in terms of title victories (due in no small part to Lewis Hamilton, in addition to Jenson Button, Damon Hill, Jackie Stewart, and so on).
Modern Formula 1 is constantly changing its regulations to take account of scientific advancement and the political Zeitgeist, and that helps to act as a balance and prevent a team from enjoying success forever. That’s certainly been the case in 2022, which has seen Lewis Hamilton shift from title contender to also-ran and being left in the shade of his teammate. As part of the European core audience of the sport, most events are on at a convenient time for British viewers, who currently have three drivers (Lando Norris and George Russell, alongside Lewis Hamilton) to cheer on. It can also be especially good for fans of live betting, as red flags, crashes, safety cars, and unexpected rain showers can all play havoc with predictions and turn a race on its head.
Britons have invented most of the sports on this list, and contribute a lot to F1, so it’s no surprise these are the most popular sports for betting in the UK.