The 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina will be the most wagered on event in the history of sports betting.
That’s an unprovable statement, since there’s no overall governing body for sports betting across the globe and no way to tell just how much will be wagered on this Sunday’s championship match – legally or illegally.
However, the statement does hold merit with the amount of betting interest books have seen in the World Cup so far, as well as the early betting action on Sunday’s tournament finale.
“Pinnacle Sports expects the final of the 2014 World Cup to be the most bet single sporting event of all-time,” says a spokesperson for online book Pinnacle Sports, which is opening the door to high rollers with a $1,000,000 bet limit on the World Cup final. “The tournament as a whole has dwarfed other events and the world-spanning final between two soccer powers will appeal to all audiences.”
Pinnacle Sports opened Argentina as a slight -105 favorite over Germany (-101) to win the World Cup title. Argentina, however, is a +246 underdog in the three-way odds (90-minute odds), with Germany set at +132 and a Draw priced at +232. The total is set at two goals (Over -114/Under +104).
Germany’s dominant performance – 7-1 victory – over host country Brazil in the semifinals is enough to convince books that the Germans can win this match in regulation.While that offensive explosion is impressive, Argentina’s defensive prowess shouldn’t be overlooked.
“Argentina's four clean sheets kept our estimates for our opening lines relatively close,” says Pinnacle Sports. “Of course, as always, money will determine which way they'll move.”
U.S.-facing sportsbook CarbonSports.ag opened Germany as a slimmer +110 favorite in the 90-minute odds, with Argentina priced at +260 and a regulation draw at +240. The early action has been evenly split, with Germany and Argentina each seeing 45 percent of the total wagers and the Draw attracting 10 percent of the action.
“This was one of the matchups we thought would happen at the beginning of the tournament and with Germany blowing out Brazil it was an easier decision to instill the Germans as the favorite,” Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker with CarbonSports.ag, tells Covers.
In Las Vegas, the World Cup market isn’t as active as the online sportsbooks. However, the 2014 World Cup has surprised bookmakers in terms of overall interest and betting handle. Popular Nevada sportsbook operator William Hill opened Germany as a -150 outright favorite (Argentina +130) and priced them at +130 on the three-way odds (Argentina +260, Draw +230).
“We’re 100 percent shading Germany as the favorite. I would expect seven out of every 10 bets to be on them,” Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill U.S. Director of Trading, tells Covers. “Everyone sees that score line with Germany beating Brazil 7-1 and then Argentina goes scoreless against the Netherlands… we’ll need Argentina huge come Sunday.”
Bogdanovich was shocked by the amount of action the World Cup tournament took at William Hill books and says that despite the United States falling out of competition in the Round of 16, there has only been a slight decrease in action on the remaining knockout stage games.
“It came at a really good time, what with a slower period in the summer and the afternoon games. People really got into it. People got more into it this year than any other and got used to betting on it,” Bogdanovich says. “We wrote more business than I assumed we would and it drove people to the windows, betting other things, like NFL futures, as well.”
He says that while the World Cup - and soccer in general - doesn’t have the same appeal in Nevada as it does outside of the United States, falling well behind things like the Super Bowl and March Madness in terms of betting action, the handle for Sunday's championship game will rival that of a World Series of NBA Finals Game 7.
And, as for the World Cup final being the most wagered on sporting event of all time, Bogdanovich believes there is some truth behind that statement.
“Obviously, since we’re in Nevada, I’m not an expert. And who knows how much is being bet illegally. But I would have to say it has a shot. It’s the most powerful sport in the world,” he says. “It definitely has a puncher’s chance.”
Follow Covers Features Editor Jason Logan on Twitter @CoversJLo.