The Most Popular College Sports to Bet On

The battle for legal sports betting in the US was long and hard-fought and one of the most consistent arguments used by opponents of sports betting was that it might have a negative impact on college sport.

The US sports landscape is relatively unusual compared to the rest of the world in that college sports are as big, and in some cases, bigger than professional leagues, but many organizations, including sports leagues themselves, were concerned that the amateur status of college sports would be at risk.

These concerns have proved to be unfounded, however. In fact, by making sports betting legal, and regulating those companies that offer it, there is far more protection and safeguarding in place than existed previously, when illegal gambling operators worked outside the law. College sports betting is now thriving across the US and two college sports, in particular, are proving very popular with sports bettors and with regulated sports betting operators such as Caesars Sportsbook.

College football

This is the big one! College football is huge in the US, and when it comes to popularity, second only to the NFL in terms of fan numbers and viewing figures. The college football season, which kicks off in the summer and runs through into February, is host to a huge variety of teams and leagues, and some of these, such as the Pac-12, the Big Ten, and the Big Twelve, attract huge audiences.

One of the aspects of college football that makes it so popular is the loyalty that people feel to the college they attended, or to their local college. That loyalty and familiarity generates a greater connection than the sometimes-impersonal franchises of the NFL.

For bettors, college football also offers many advantages. Football is one of the best sports to bet on, offering an array of markets covering everything from the game winner to total yards gained. It also rewards those who can develop expertise covering a particular conference, as with so many teams out there, it is sometimes difficult for sportsbooks to cover all the options effectively.

College basketball

If there is one college sport that can rival college football, it is basketball. The US college basketball scene operates on the same structure as football, with a variety of leagues across the US, but also offers something that football doesn’t quite match: March Madness.

Every spring, the best college basketball teams make it to a single knockout competition, which builds towards the championship final. Filling in a ‘bracket’ to predict the winners of all of these games has long been a tradition in the US, even before the sports betting revolution, and increasing numbers of sports bettors try to bet on the outcome of the March Madness spectacle.

Like football, basketball has plenty of attractions for sports bettors, with betting markets possible on the whole game, halves and quarters, as well an array of prop and parlay bet possibilities.

College sports betting rules

Betting on college sports is not quite as open as other forms of betting and the influence of those lingering concerns mentioned above has led to some states restricting college sports betting in different ways.

Currently, there are 15 states that allow some form of betting on college sports. The first to launch college sports betting was New Jersey in August 2018 and the most recent were Virginia and Michigan in January 2021. Not all the states have the same approach to college sports betting, however, with some imposing more restrictions than others.

No restrictions

There is good news for college betting fans resident in Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and West Virginia – they are able to bet on college sports without any restrictions.

Prop bets ruled out

Prop betting, or betting on the occurrence of a particular event during a game, is increasingly popular with sports betting fans, but some states, out of a concern that betting on individual events could put college athletes at risk of exploitation, have banned prop betting in college sports. New Hampshire, Iowa, Virginia and Colorado all have some form of prop betting restrictions.

In-state college sports

The most common restriction on college sports betting is to limit betting to college teams and events based outside of the state. Illinois, Rhode Island, Virginia, New Jersey and Washington DC all restrict betting on these college events, while New Hampshire allow all but prop bets on in-state events.

In-play and in-person

Live betting is popular with many sports betting fans, and most states, with the exception of Virginia and Tennessee, allow live betting on college events. Oregon, which launched its sports betting market in 2019, has a more unusual restriction, requiring all college sports bets to be made in person.

NCAAB Big 12 Conference Preview
NCAAB Big 12 Conference Preview