50 sports bets you can still make
50 sports bets you can still make
This winter, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the globe, shuttering countless businesses, closing schools and places of worship, and redefining our entire way of life. Though outliers exist, able to withstand or resume operations despite the novel coronavirus, most sports have not been immune. Fortunately, as you’ll see here, not all sports. Teams’ most loyal fans are not the only affected parties. Millions of sports bettors make a daily or weekly practice of wagering on live events, and billions of dollars are bet each year, when factoring in offshore sportsbooks.
Some leagues have tried their best to stave off economic disaster and avoid letting down their fans. The Turkey Super Lig, for instance, continued its top-flight soccer matches in empty stadiums—a last-ditch effort in March to preserve the season and coveted title. But that same month, it ultimately shut down amid rising cases in the country. The XFL, America’s new football league contested during the NFL’s offseason, went from attracting fans to its alternate rules and overt embrace of gambling to a complete operational suspension, laying off nearly its entire staff.
To label sports as simply a “hobby” and gambling outlet—and relatively insignificant in the scheme of things—is to miss their full meaning and utility to innumerable families and individuals. Beyond the manners in which our loyalties and traditions are inherited for generations and our childhood memories are etched in playoff arenas, there are profound ways in which sports provide distraction. Underneath our differences is the value of using sports to escape and enjoy something, even temporarily.
And luckily, as we alluded to, not all sports have stopped. Stacker dug through dozens of online sportsbooks and news items to uncover 50 sports bets you can still make, from several NFL futures to Central Asian soccer games. Whether or not you view video games on the same level as other sports, or if you find your time is better spent playing video games than choosing the rescheduled November Masters winner months in advance, we guarantee these bets are available.
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NFL: Super Bowl LV winner
The first of several “futures” on this list (wagering on the future champion as opposed to the single-game winner) is America’s most viewed championship. Fresh off their Super Bowl LIV victory in February, the Kansas City Chiefs are installed as favorites at most sportsbooks to repeat in 2021. The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are the next two, while the new-look, Tom Brady-led Buccaneers are hovering around 12–1 odds to win on their home field.
NFL: NFC champion
For sports bettors with more confidence in a team making a Super Bowl appearance than in securing an eventual title, most books are still offering conference-winner odds (which are shorter than league-title odds). The favorites in the NFC are the Niners, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Bucs.
NFL: AFC champion
In the AFC, favorites to reach the Super Bowl include the aforementioned Chiefs and Ravens, the Brady-less New England Patriots, and Buffalo Bills. There is absolutely zero faith in the Cincinnati Bengals, as oddsmakers do not trust #1 overall pick Joe Burrow (QB, LSU) to make headway in his rookie season.
NFL: divisional winners
Gamblers are likely to find something that catches their eye with divisional futures. There are eight divisions, as the AFC and NFC each consists of East, North, South, and West. A wager on the AFC East, for example, would take into account just the Patriots, Bills, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins.
Winners of the league’s Most Valuable Player award are typically quarterbacks, so odds are shorter on 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes, 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, and Russell Wilson than they are on skill-position weapons like running backs Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, and Saquon Barkley.
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NFL: regular-season team win totals
Team over/unders for regular-season wins are perennially one of the most popular prop bets. Based on the previous season’s totals, examples for next year include the Chiefs at 11.5 wins, Ravens at 11, Niners at 10.5, and Saints at 10. You can also have fun with choosing whether the Jacksonville Jaguars or Washington Redskins will win more or less than five games.
NFL: Cam Newton’s next team
And now for something slightly different: Longtime Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a free agent since the team signed Teddy Bridgewater and released their 2011 top-overall pick. Oddsmakers like the Los Angeles Chargers as the runaway favorite in the absence of Philip Rivers (-150, or bet $150 to win $100), though you can take a swing on the Jags or Dolphins at +470 each (bet $100 to win $470).
NFL: Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year
The final NFL future bet on this list is predicting which 2020 draftees will take home Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Burrow and Lions running back D’Andre Swift are offensive front-runners, while oddsmakers like Redskins pass-rusher Chase Young and Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons on the other side of the ball.
[Pictured: D'Andre Swift.]
NBA: Finals champion
Sportsbooks are still offering NBA Finals futures despite the 2019–20 season remaining on pause and the postseason uncertain. The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers are obvious co-favorites while the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, and defending champion Toronto Raptors trail.
NBA: Western Conference champion
After LeBron James’ Lakers, handicappers like their Staples Center cohabitant Clippers, the Rockets led by James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and the Denver Nuggets.
MLB: World Series winner
Major League Baseball fans were left without their typical late-March Opening Day. However, assuming commissioner Rob Manfred green-lights the season (possibly to start this July 4), we should still see a 2020 champion crowned. The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and 2019 runners-up Houston Astros are listed as World Series favorites, and the 2019 champion Washington Nationals appear in the next tier.
MLB: American League champion
The same gambling logic of the NFL and NBA applies for baseball, as books offer options to wager on league-pennant winners in addition to the World Series champion. In the AL, the obvious choices are the Yankees and Astros, followed by 2019 postseason contestants the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays.
MLB: National League champion
The Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and Nationals are the top-tier favorites, while the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, and New York Mets represent slight underdogs.
MLB: divisional winners
Six divisions are available for wagering, with the AL and NL each made up of East, Central, and West. With 162 games in a normal season, chunks of ground can be made up or lost in less than one month.
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NHL: Stanley Cup champion
As is the story for the NBA—with whom the National Hockey League shares most arenas—a season on the precipice of the playoffs has been put on hold. Fans of the Stanley Cup Playoffs can still place bets on the champion, however: The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning are the clear-cut favorites.
NHL: Eastern Conference champion
Behind the Bruins and Lightning are the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Philadelphia Flyers in the East. In the next tier are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, and New York Islanders.
NHL: Western Conference champion
The Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, and the defending champion—and massive 2019 underdog story—St. Louis Blues represent the favorites in the West, though the conference includes significantly more parity below the top.
Hockey: Russian leagues
American bettors will have to adjust to time-zone differences to place wagers, but books are taking bets on a few Russian hockey leagues still in action—which provides the first opportunity on this list to gamble on same-day events. Examples are “short-hockey” games from League Pro Moscow (with three 10-minute periods) and the Comet Division.
College football: conference winners
Bettors can choose from 10 college football conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision—the highest level including American, Atlantic Coastal, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC, and Sun Belt.
College football: season start date
You can even wager on the yes/no market for the season start date—though the parameters and odds vary. For example, the odds of the season beginning “on time” on Aug. 29, its original date, are -900 (bet $900 to win $100) for no and +500 ($100 to win $500) for yes. But for Sept. 4, those become +250 for “on or before” the date and -360 for “after.”
NCAA basketball: 2021 tournament champion
The NCAA will never crown a 2020 tournament champion, but sportsbooks can mitigate the sting by providing options to gamble on next season’s winner. Favorites are Gonzaga, Baylor, Villanova, and Virginia, while Kentucky, Creighton, Duke, and Kansas are considered slightly less probable.
Golf: Masters winner
The PGA Tour recently announced a revised (though still “projected”) schedule for the remainder of the season, beginning June 8. So the chance to see Tiger Woods repeat at Augusta National and earn his sixth green jacket has been postponed from its early-April date to a target of Nov. 12–15, becoming the year’s final major. Tiger and Brooks Koepka, both at +1000 (or 10–1 odds), are the second favorites behind Rory McIlroy at +650, who would complete a career grand slam with a Masters win. Note: The Open Championship, or ”British Open” was officially canceled at the time of the revised schedule announcement.
Golf: U.S. Open winner
Projected for Sept. 17–20 at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York, the 2020 U.S. Open sees two-time winner Koepka as the +800 favorite, followed by 2011 champ McIlroy, 2016 champ Dustin Johnson, and Jon Rahm (2019 T-3rd) each at +1000, while three-time champ Woods rounds out the top tier at +1400. Last year’s champ Gary Woodland is a 50–1 long shot.
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Golf: PGA Championship winner
Now set for Aug. 6–9 from San Francisco’s TPC Harding Park, the PGA Championship becomes the season’s first major. The same familiar names make up the oddsmakers’ most likely to lift the Wanamaker Trophy: last year’s winner Koepka (+800), McIlroy (+800), Rahm (+900), Johnson (+1100), and Woods (+1200).
Soccer: 2021 UEFA Euro champion
Most international soccer leagues are paused or canceled, but it’s still possible to put a bet down on next year’s European Championship winner. The event, which is contested every four years, was postponed from 2020. Portugal, the most recent champion, is +1700, while runner-up France is +600, Belgium is +550, and England is +500.
Soccer: 2022 FIFA World Cup champion
In 2022, the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup commences from Qatar. The top-five favorites, in order, are: defending champ France (+600), Brazil and Germany (both +700), Spain (+750), and England (+1000).
Soccer: Belarusian Premier League
Back to real-time betting opportunities: Among the very few professional soccer leagues that have either remained in or returned to action, the Belarusian Vysshaya Liga offers single-game bets for its 16-team championship.
Soccer: Nicaragua Primera Division
The Liga Primera de Nicaragua is the next option. The 10-team league plays its matches with much more American-friendly kickoff times.
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Soccer: Tajikistan league
Tajikistan is a landlocked Central Asian country bordered by Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, and Afghanistan. Books still offer wagers on its eight-member Tajikistan Higher League.
Soccer: Turkmenistan league
Turkmenistan, to the west of Tajikistan, is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Its Yokary League resumed on April 19 and includes eight teams.
Soccer: Taiwan league
Taiwan, an Island state to China’s southeast, hosts the Taiwan Football Premier League, consisting of eight teams. Your gambling obstacles, once again, are more about timing than research, as some games will take place overnight for U.S. bettors. But enjoy—this is the last non-future (and live human) soccer option on this list.
Though the UFC continues to cancel its primary scheduled events and championships, most sportsbooks will take your action on futures yet to be called off. Other lesser-known events like Chael Sonnen’s Submission Underground carry on—even amid growing criticism.
Similar to the biggest UFC and mixed martial arts events, boxing wagers are available but tenuous at best. You can place bets but will have to wait out the unpredictability of dates in July (the third Tyson vs. Wilder) and December (Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk), for example.
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Horse racing goes on in several countries—including minor U.S. tracks—despite the murkiness surrounding Triple Crown dates. The Preakness Stakes, scheduled for May, has been postponed and will eventually be held without its legendary infield events. The Belmont Stakes has not yet announced a change to its June weekend, and the Kentucky Derby has already been moved from May to September.
You won’t find geographic variety, but dozens of games remain in action in the Russian volleyball leagues. You can wager on women’s competitions in the Liberty League and Ural Volley Championship, for instance.
Commonly reserved in the American consciousness for the Summer Olympics, table tennis has the opportunity to grab some of the present-day sports spotlight—which means you have another opportunity to gamble. Choose from the likes of the Russia Pro League, Ukraine Win Cup, Ukraine Setka Cup, and Czech Republic TT Star Series.
You can’t currently enjoy bars and casual darts games with some friends, but you can have a beer by yourself, text your friends (the only recommended option in this list of three), and gamble on international darts competitions. Leagues include the Remote Darts League (self-explanatory), Modus Icons League, and the PDC Home Tour.
If you didn’t know the 2020 World Snooker Championship was postponed from May to July, we’re here to inform you. And to tell you that snooker is similar to billiards, but with 21 balls in addition to the cue (instead of nine) and a distinct historical context. Its world championship has also been held since 1927, and you can place a future wager on defending champ and World #1 Judd Trump (+250), five-time champ Ronnie O’Sullivan (+500), or 2010 winner Neil Robertson (+500).
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eSports: Madden NFL 20 simulations
Video games are not just a popular hobby—particularly during spring 2020—but also an avenue for gambling. In the case of Madden NFL 20, you wager on simulations of CPU vs. CPU games shown on Twitch. Books offer standard options to bet on spreads, moneylines, and totals, as in the real-life league.
eSports: NBA2K20 simulations
In early April, bettors had the chance to bet on the inaugural NBA2K Players Tournament, which saw current players battle each other on Xbox One (Devin Booker won it all). Now you can still bet on NBA2K, but you’ll have to settle for simulated games.
eSports: MLB The Show
MLB took a page out of the NBA’s book and created their own players-only tournament around MLB The Show on PlayStation. The playoffs start April 30 and will be streamed live on social accounts. You also have the option to wager on computer simulations.
eSports: NHL 20 simulations
NHL 20 includes the same concept of simulations for the betting public. Ten-minute-period games are streamed on Twitch. In March, the Columbus Blue Jackets hosted an NHL 20 tournament for charity that featured professional gamers representing teams.
eSports: FIFA soccer
Bookmakers allow you to wager on a variety of FIFA matchups in which pro players choose teams and face off (popular soccer predictions sites still cover these as they would real matches). Some options include: Esoccer Battle (eight-minute play), Escoccer Live Arena (10 minutes), and Esoccer Liga Pro (12).
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eSports: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The multiplayer first-person shooter matches up teams of terrorists and counterterrorists. Wagering on these matchups means choosing a side—in this case a professional gaming team.
eSports: DOTA 2
This MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game pits five-player teams against each other, as they defend their base and try to destroy the opposition’s “Ancient.” Just like Counter-Strike gambling, bettors choose a pro team.
eSports: League of Legends
League of Legends is another MOBA game, and similar to DOTA, the objective is to defend home base and destroy the opposition’s “Nexus.” Each player chooses a “champion,” and their roles are vast and diverse (marksmen, mages, slayers). Gamblers have several leagues from several countries to explore.
If you’re looking to switch things up from horses, you can check out greyhound races. They typically feature six runners, and some online books offer live streams every two minutes.
Virtual camel racing
Virtual camel racing has all the thrills of horse racing and real camel racing in Dubai (often with robot jockeys)—only this is with computer graphics. Live commentary adds a nice punch.
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