The Olympic flame may be extinguished in London but the excitement surrounding the 2012 Summer Games continues to burn hot.
Online sportsbooks, which usually brace themselves for a slow summer, were treated to three weeks of non-stop wagering on anything from women’s race walk to the men’s 100-meter dash. British book, bet365.com, finished with a personal record handle for Olympic betting, seeing increases in pre-event and in-play wagering.
Here’s a look at three of the biggest wins and losses for online sportsbooks during London 2012.
Books’ biggest losses
Men’s 100 m, 200 m, 4x100-metre relay
Despite being disqualified from the world championships and a poor showing during the Jamaican Olympic trials, sprinter Usain Bolt stole the show – and the money – at the 2012 Summer Games. Bolt was heavily backed in his individual events and made the Jamaicans the popular choice in the relay.
“The single stakes plays and the parlay payouts on him to win all three were quite damaging for us,” Aron Black of bet365.com told Covers. “Many had doubts about his ability to do this, however, more bettors held faith that he could still dominate.”
Bolt moved from -115 to -450 between the qualifying and final for the men’s 100-meter dash, one of the biggest odds moves for any athlete at the London games.
Men’s 5,000 metre, 10,000 metre
Mo Farah became a national hero with his wins in the men’s 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter. The British Somali international thrilled the home crowd with dramatic finishes in both races and was heavily backed by British bettors in his individual races and on parlays.
“The 10,000 meter was bad enough, but again the parlay payout on him to win both the 10,000 and 5,000 were our worst results,” says Black.
British track star Jessica Ennis thrilled the UK crowd with a gold medal in the heptathlon and dug deep into bookmakers’ pockets with a ton of betting support from her countrymen. And it wasn’t just British bettors banking on Ennis, according to bet365.com. International wagers loved her odds as well. Ennis finished with 6955 points – 306 points ahead of Lilli Schwarzkopf of Germany.
Books’ biggest wins
Men’s 10-meter platform diving
American David Boudia stunned the UK crowd with a near-flawless performance, edging favorite Qiu Bo of China and national hero Tom Daley. Black says both Bo and Daley were heavily backed by bettors, making for a nice payday for bookmakers.
Women’s pole vault
Two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Yelena Isinbeyeva was heavily favored and heavily backed heading into the pole vault. However, the Russian cleared 4.70 m for third and won a bronze, behind Jenn Suhr of the United States and Yarisley Silva of Cuba.
Men’s 200-meter butterfly
Chad le Clos of South Africa helped books avoid a big payout on American Michael Phelps in the men’s 200 m butterfly. Phelps appeared to be on his way to another gold medal but le Clos finished strong with a time of 1:52.96, just ahead of Phelps’ 1:53.01.
"Phelps has dominated all swimming for the last eight years, as everyone knows. But as this has been his signature event, he was well backed to repeat as Olympic gold medalist," says Black.