Sports Betting Data: Could Soccer Overtake NFL By 2026 World Cup?

Written By Stephen Andress on June 21, 2022 - Last Updated on June 22, 2022
2026 world cup

FIFA President Gianni Infantino made what many American sports fans will consider to be an outlandish statement at FIFA’s event announcing the North American host cities for the 2026 World Cup.

“By 2026 soccer or football will be the No. 1 sport in this part of the world,” he boldly predicted.

But what does the sports betting data suggest? How far does the beautiful game have to go to catch the major American sports, notably the NFL, in popularity at the betting window?

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Which Sports are Bet On Most in America?

Two of the nation’s largest online sportsbooks, FanDuel and BetMGM, provided TheLines with data on which sports are bet on most, in terms of handle (total dollars wagered).

Likely to nobody’s surprise, basketball and football are currently No. 1 and 2. Football has the highest handle per game and highest average bet amount placed. Basketball has a higher overall handle because there are more games on the schedule.

Top-Five Sports In United States By Betting Handle

RankFanDuel BetMGM

Soccer Has long road to No. 1 By 2026 World Cup

Soccer handle at FanDuel and BetMGM has cracked the top five in the United States when including all global soccer betting markets. Soccer has also surpassed hockey.

However, it’s not just football and basketball it will have to pass in order to reach the No. 1 spot in the sports betting world by the 2026 World Cup. Baseball and tennis still garner more dollars in the legal sports betting market at both FanDuel and BetMGM than soccer does.

Could soccer get there and help make the FIFA president’s prediction come true? There’s certainly been massive growth in soccer in America, most recently evidenced by Apple paying MLS $2.5 billion for 10 years of exclusive streaming rights. Plus, a November survey by Ampere Analysis found 49% of sports fans in the U.S. like soccer. That ranked fourth behind football (70%), basketball (61%) and baseball (57%).

But rapid growth and becoming No. 1 are two very different things. And it would be a massive shocker for Infantino’s prediction to come true by the 2026 World Cup in North America.


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Stephen Andress

Stephen Andress joined Catena Media as Managing Editor of in March 2021. He began his career as a sports anchor and reporter in Eugene, OR before moving to Louisville, KY. There he covered the Kentucky Derby, Sugar Bowl and three consecutive Final Fours. Stephen later won an Emmy award while working for the Indianapolis Colts. More recently, he produced content for the PGA TOUR and multiple fantasy football and sports betting websites. Nothing has excited him more in his career than seeing legalized sports betting in the United States and the opportunity to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for it. His hobbies include kicking his high school friends' butts in fantasy football, Japanese whisky and Kentucky bourbon, golf outrights and supporting RIP Medical Debt, a charity which works to wipe out medical bills for those who have been unable to cover the cost of getting sick.

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