The Most Popular Sports for Betting in the UK

Sport is a £40 billion industry in the UK according to research firm Statista. We all know that Football is the most popular sport in the country and in the betting world, the beautiful game is responsible for 40% of all bets placed in UK sportsbooks.

Of course, it is no surprise that football would also be the top sport for betting. But did you know that horse racing is the second most popular betting market after football? Even though cricket might be a bigger sport than horseracing, when it comes to sports gambling, more people wager on thoroughbreds than cricket games.

Stick around to discover the seven most popular sports for betting in the UK.


As mentioned, football reigns supreme in the UK. From Scotland and Wales to England and Northern Ireland, football is every gambler’s first choice for betting. The explanation is simple.

Football is a way of life in the UK. Kids start watching the game at a young age. When they grow up, they become amateur players in their local leagues, and they support the country’s biggest football teams.

Speaking of big football teams, England is home to some of the world’s most valuable sports clubs. Manchester City, Manchester England, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham all rank in the top 15 list of valuable football clubs. As well as this, football is home to some of the highest paid athletes in the world. This value equals big money, and this translates to the betting market.

Another reason football is big for betting is that nearly every sports book provides football-betting markets. Join any betting site today and there is a chance the first sport you will see is football. It does not matter if the regular football season is on. There is always a football tournament going on somewhere in the world. It could be the MLS, the World Cup, the Mexican Liga MX, or women’s football, so there is always something for punters to place a bet on.

Horse Racing

Horseracing is a bona fide British pastime. The sport might have originated in Central Asia thousands of years ago, but the royals and upper class in the UK played a role in popularizing it around the world. In the past, horseracing used to enjoy special treatment in the betting scene. It used to be the only allowed sport for betting. This explains why it is such a popular sport for gamblers.

It is also a simple sport. You pick the winning horse, the top three thoroughbreds, or the horse with the fastest lap. You can also predict the top three lineups in order. But first, you need to select a racing event. There is the Royal Ascot—one of the most glamorous racing events in the world. Then there is the Epsom Derby, which opened back in 1780. Other races popular with punters include the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National, and American classics like the Kentucky Derby.


Like football and a few other sports, cricket calls the UK home. Interestingly, cricket is older than football. It was invented in the 13th century. Football did not become a sport until the 19th century. Like horseracing, cricket used to be a sport for the wealthy. In the 1600s, betting on cricket had become so rampant that parliament created an act limiting the maximum you could bet on this sport.

With that said, cricket is now a global sport. It is India’s national sport and is also incredibly famous in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, and South Africa. Due to this, both bookies and gamblers love it.

Sports bettors in the UK can bet on cricket matches all year round, even when these games are taking place overseas. Betting on cricket is straightforward. You can select the match winner, or you can select specific outcomes like the top batsman, top bowler, or the toss winner.


Rugby has roughly 12 million fans in the UK, ranking it among the most popular sports in the country. Rugby is particularly popular in the northern side of the country, where 20 out of the 24 teams in the top two leagues are located.  People who watch rugby enjoy its physicality, speed, and resilience. It is often associated with the military for these same reasons. In Wales and Scotland, rugby is more popular than football.

What are the biggest rugby tournaments in the country? The Six Nations Championship receives tremendous media coverage every year. As its name suggests, it is a competition consisting of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, and France. Other major competitions that are popular with bettors include the Gallagher Premiership, the Rugby World Cup, the Heineken Champions Cup, and the European Rugby Challenge Cup.


Tennis is one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK. Last year, roughly 4.7 million people played the game, one million more than in 2021. Tennis is growing by creating more facilities that allow people from low socio-economic groups to have access to the sport.

When it comes to betting, tennis is accessible to people of all social groups. Major men’s and women’s tournaments receive coverage from all the big sports networks. You can also stream the games online, and you can bet on all the major competitions from Wimbledon to the US Open.

Ice Hockey

Hockey is another sport which is growing rapidly in the UK. With growth comes the attention of sports betting companies. In the past, bookies in the UK used to prioritize the National Hockey League which takes place in North America.

Lately, betting sites are giving priority to the Elite Ice Hockey League, which takes place in the UK. This ensures local hockey fans have a chance to support their favorite sport by betting on it. Of course, you can also wager on the NHL and other popular ice hockey leagues.


Although basketball is not a huge sport in the UK in terms of participation, it is extremely popular with punters. The majority of these will be interested mainly in the NBA or college basketball over in the USA. But they also have the option to predict British Basketball games or other European leagues.

Basketball is a simple game to predict. Being a team sport, it means you can make money by selecting a match winner. You can also try your luck with a handicap bet or predict the total number of points scored in a match.