When it comes to sports betting in the US the Big 4 draw the heavy action. Football, basketball, baseball and hockey have millions of loyal and passionate fans who pour millions of dollars into bets of all types. But they’re not the only options on the US sports betting menu.
You might be surprised to see just how many global sports you can bet on, from the depths of the Belgian soccer tiers to the flashy heights of TWO professional darts leagues. We’re not kidding about betting on darts.
If you’re looking to expand your betting horizons, do a little exploring in your sportsbook lobby and you’ll find plenty of new and intriguing ways to get a bet down.
Much like the Big 4, “niche” sports feature the world’s best athletes/performers doing what they do at the highest level. Whether it’s cricket, NASCAR or swimming, the top athletes are phenomenal. They’ve literally spent most of their lives perfecting their skill or craft.
Why not give them an audience? And nothing gets you more personally embedded or engaged in a new sport more than betting on it.
There’s another benefit to adding a few niche sports to your betting portfolio: Time is money at sportsbooks. Oddsmakers spend most of their time on what moves the needle. That generally means setting very tight betting lines on the NFL and the rest of the Big 4.
That in turn means there’s a decent chance you’ll find better odds and more beatable lines in less-trafficked sports. Those who do the legwork and find those edges can usually ride the wave for a while. Here are some “other” sports to consider with your sports betting dollar.
When it comes to general viewing interest, NASCAR isn’t exactly a “niche” sport. All of the big NASCAR events are shown on major outlets (FOX, NBC) and race days draw millions of eyeballs.
From the perspective of the average football or basketball fan, though, watching a bunch of cars go in circles for a few hours can be a tough sell. We’re here to tell you it is a sensationally fun sport to lose an afternoon in. And as far as sports betting goes, NASCAR is just beginning to hit its stride.
There’s a whole lot more to betting on NASCAR than just picking the outright winner. Sportsbooks are responding to the new demand with innovative offerings and a wide range of props and futures. Fastest qualifiers, podium finishes, fastest lap, head-to-heads … all kinds of fun bets to be had.
NASCAR has also recently signed a deal with data and technology group Genius Sports to provide NASCAR bettors with real-time odds and data to enhance the race-day experience.
For more on NASCAR betting, check our deeper dive here:
NASCAR isn’t the only circuit for betting on auto racing. Formula 1 racing doesn’t get a ton of attention in the US, but it’s an incredibly thrilling sport with plenty of diehard loyalists.
Formula 1 features the world’s fastest cars, incredible tracks and a storied history that adds new chapters with each passing season. As an added bonus, it’s not all that hard to wrap your head around your betting options.
This is a sport in which favorites win a lot so you’ll find that only a handful of drivers have a realistic shot at winning each race. The same holds true for the year-long team and driver championships.
You can catch NASCAR on FOX, NBC, FS1, and NBCSN. Formula 1 races can be found on ESPN at times, but the majority of races are on ESPN2. Check the app versions of all of these networks for streaming options.
Where you can bet auto racing online: PA, NJ, WV, IND, NH, IOWA, CO
Golf and tennis aren’t “niche” sports in the traditional sense either. They both have huge followings and tons of fans, as evidenced by TV ratings and extensive coverage of both major circuits.
That said, they still fall into the “niche” category as far as betting goes. The total handle they bring in to US sportsbooks pales in comparison to that brought in by NFL betting or NBA betting, for example.
Things are changing, though, as the legal sports betting environment across the US evolves. And there are plenty of folks catching on to how much fun golf & tennis are to bet on – especially live.
The Majors get a lot of the attention in both sports but there’s action to be found every week on both the PGA Tour and the ATP and WTA tours. Golf and tennis run nearly year-round, too, so there’s almost always a tournament to bet on.
Betting options for golf and tennis are almost bottomless. You can bet on outright winners, focus on head-to-head matchups, dig into props, or explore the depths of live betting for both domestic and international events.
Speaking of live betting, it’s a huge growth area for both golf and tennis. Viewers and streamers can bet on the next hole in golf or how the next point will break in tennis among lots of other live bet options.
Technological developments in golf and tennis coverage have helped make this possible, both from a streaming and tracking perspective. While there’s plenty of room for referee error in major team sports, that’s just not much of an issue here.
You can also zoom in or out of the action at any time. This may include a specific set as a match evolves, or a particular stretch of holes, like Amen Corner at the Masters, for example.
The futures market for both sports is also incredibly active, especially when it comes to projecting the winners of the Majors. The odds board is constantly updated and it actually makes for a handy research tool to use as you judge recent form.
For more on golf or tennis betting, check our deep dive pages here:
Golf and tennis can be found on the major broadcast and cable networks. Additionally, there’s a golf channel for early round coverage and other events, and a tennis channel which covers tour stops that don’t receive a ton of press. For live streaming, lean towards the app of the network broadcasting the event.
Where you can bet golf and tennis online: PA, NJ, WV, IND, NH, IOWA, CO
Back in 1993, a classic bar debate came to life. What would happen if the best of the best from different fighting styles got together and mixed it up? Who would win?
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was born to answer that question. From relatively humble beginnings as a sport with a niche following, UFC (and various MMA offshoots) have grown into massive businesses.
It’s not a reach to say MMA is the fastest growing sport in recorded history. UFC fight cards attract millions of viewers, tons of media attention and a comparable level of betting action.
While sportsbooks do their best to put up the odds and lines that make the most sense, there are a ton of variables that just can’t be accounted for. You’ll also find scores of props and in-fight betting opportunities.
Since you’re likely watching a UFC event anyway, why not dig a little deeper and get some skin in the game? While UFC is the biggest organization there are other options to consider including Bellator. If you’re willing to put in some effort, there’s money to be made on fight night.
UFC betting tips for amateur bettors:
More on UFC and MMA betting on our deep dive page here:
The biggest cards in the UFC will be found on pay-per-view. Other events can be streamed live on ESPN+, and you’ll find additional coverage on ESPN. As for betting, UFC is easily found at all of the major sportsbooks, but you may have to do some digging to find Bellator and other forms of MMA.
Where you can bet MMA and UFC online: PA, NJ, WV, IND, NH, IOWA
Horse racing has been around forever, right? But when was the last time you went to the races? Or watched a horse racing simulcast?
The Sport of Kings is under a lot of scrutiny these days (and rightly so), but done properly it is still one of the most thrilling and breathtaking events in sports. That goes especially for the Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
But there’s a whole lot more to see across the horse racing world, too. International horse racing is big business and you can bet on tracks from Hong Kong to Dubai to Oslo all day, every day from your own home.
Thanks to the wonders of simulcasting, live streaming, and advance deposit wagering, it’s a reality old school punters likely never imagined possible.
Horse racing may be a step or two removed from its heyday but there’s still a thriving racing circuit across the US. Take advantage of it and explore the rich history of thoroughbred racing across the country.
If you like your betting sports filled with easy-to-come-by and detailed information, horse racing will be your jam. If you like researching stats in other sports, you can learn to do the same with the ponies quickly and easily.
There’s almost always a race to bet on to practice, too. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that a number of the sport’s other big events – Saudi Cup, Pegasus Cup, Breeders Cup, etc. – attract loads of attention.
As of March 2020 it’s completely legal to bet on horse racing in 32 states. And there are plenty of different ways to bet, ranging from straight race winners to exotic and pick 6s, which are akin to sports betting parlays and offer the chance at some big winnings.
After just a little bit of seasoning, you can learn what to look for in a horse, what jockeys have the upper hand in a race, and which tracks attract the best talent and most action.
For more on horse race betting, check out our guide here:
The major Triple Crown races are carried on NBC, and various cable networks will carry racing cards from time to time. TVG is the general broadcast home for daily racing, and you can also stream directly on the website and app. This includes international races that run in the off hours.
Where you can bet horse racing online: See the full list of legal horse betting states.
There’s not one but TWO professional darts organizations which attract the world’s best players. And those who throw for the Professional Darts Corporation or the Premier League of Darts are seriously talented and wicked accurate.
Darts is a “sport” in which you can root for the everyday hero as opposed to the fittest athletes with the best training. It’s just everyday folk who are really good at darts going toe-to-toe. The one who throws the best, wins.
There are a surprising amount of ways to bet on that simple process. Standard futures and match-winner bets are or course standard along with all kinds of props including:
Here are a few essential tips for betting on darts:
In the US, the top option for watching darts is Dazn, a subscription-based cord-cutting option. Consult the league websites for additional streaming options for the various events. A number of top sportsbooks offer betting on darts, but remember it’s a niche offering in the US so you won’t find it everywhere.
Where you can bet Darts online: PA, NJ, WV, IND, NH, IOWA, CO
If you’re looking for something completely different and outside the box of American sports betting, Aussie Rules Football is it. It doesn’t resemble NFL football or college football, which scores of fans and bettors know and love. But it’s really, really fun to watch and bet on.
Known as AFL for short, games are played on an oval-shaped field between two squads of 18 players. It’s full contact, and it may look to the uninitiated observer like anything goes. Players can move the ball in various ways while using any part of their body.
Handballing, kicking, and running with it are the most common ways to advance. Points are scored either by kicking the ball through the middle goal posts, worth six points, or behind a goal and between posts, which is worth a single point.
There’s not a ton of betting action on AFL at US-based sportsbooks, so let’s just say that there’s a good opportunity to find lines that may or may not be entirely on the pulse.
There are a number of different ways to bet on AFL, including outright winners, futures, and even live betting. The team names are also a treat – consider the Port Adelaide Power or North Melbourne Kangaroos, for example – and there’s a 20-week season that’s chock full of opportunity.
Games take about two hours of playing time, although they get underway at oddball hours from those in the US.
While you won’t find AFL on major networks, there are streaming options both online and via top sportsbook apps. AFL games are carried on Fox Soccer Plus, a pay channel in the FOX Sports family. You’ll occasionally get a game on FS1 or FS2 as well. Streaming options can be found on FoxSportsGo.
Where you can bet AFL online: PA, NJ, WV, IND, NH, IOWA, CO
Why not cricket, right? Cricket traces its roots back to the 16th century. It resembles baseball to an extent in that it’s played with a ball and bat. But the bat doesn’t look like anything you’ll see in MLB though, as it’s a cane-style handle at the bottom attached to a flat paddle as opposed to a barrel.
Cricket is traditionally 11 on 11 with the object of the game to score runs when at bat and get opposing batsmen out when on the field. Still sounds like baseball, right? But there are other nuances to become familiar with as you dive into the world of cricket.
There are different styles of cricket, such as the old school version and a modern short-form of the game. It’s similar to soccer from a structural standpoint, as there are elite leagues that attract the best players and scores of smaller competitions to consider.
While cricket is a bit foreign on our shores, it’s incredibly popular elsewhere. As such, there’s tons of information out there for the research-minded to take advantage of.
Getting a handle on the best players in the game and top teams to zero in on is nowhere near as challenging as it may seem. Did we mention sweater vests yet?
A few essential cricket betting tips:
You can find cricket action on ESPN+, a subscription channel from the sports TV giant which can also be streamed. Additional streaming options include WillowTV, Hotstar, and league apps, some of which may require a subscription.
The top US sportsbooks take action on the major cricket leagues or test matches.
Where you can bet cricket online: PA, NJ, WV, IND, NH, IOWA, CO