Soccer's Popularity Growing in U.S., You Can Bet On It

Every new installment of the World Cup tournament resurrects the debate on the popularity of soccer in the United States.

Even NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently weighed in on the strange sports pro-con controversy. “I’m reminded of the end of Man of La Mancha, when Don Quixote lies dying, but is suddenly inspired to rise once more and proclaim, ‘Onward to glory I go!,’ the six-time NBA MVP wrote at Time. “And then he drops dead. Soccer has been proclaiming this impending U.S. glory for years, and while there are signs of life in the body, the prognosis is not good.”

History shows that World Cup pandemonium has little effect on America’s Major League Soccer viewership. However, the readings from one barometer clearly show increased interest in the kicking sport. According to gamblers, the popularity of soccer has grown in the United States.

David Pemberton serves as director of specialty games at the Rio in Las Vegas and sets the odds for all of the Caesar’s Entertainment line of casinos. While unable to give specific figures, he told Breitbart Sports, “For the month of June 2014 sports gaming as a whole tripled the volume of June 2010.”

Though the economy and factors outside of soccer may account for much of the spike in gambling from the first period four years ago to the second one now, evidence supports the idea that the growing popularity of European football in the United States plays a large part in the increase in dollars wagered.  

Johnny Avello, executive director of race and sports operations at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas, runs the book on everything from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show to the Super Bowl. He confirmed that soccer betting is on the rise at his casino. Speaking strictly of soccer dollars, he told Breitbart Sports: “World Cup 2014 volume is up 30% from 2010.”

These wagering figures coincide with increased television ratings. According to the website TV by the Numbers, 2014 World Cup viewership is estimated to have increased by 21% over the 2010 games. Contests in which the U.S. competed against Portugal, Germany, and Belgium all drew viewers into the eight-digit levels. Several quarterfinal matches not involving the already-exited U.S. team similarly pushed viewership to previously unknown levels for ESPN and ABC.

With the Cup playing out in the Western Hemisphere, the games have been airing at very accessible times in the U.S., allowing average citizens to watch without adjusting their sleep schedules.

“As the English Premier League and other [leagues] have become more accessible on TV and as the Beckhams and Rooneys are becoming household names in the U.S.,” Pemberton tells Breitbart Sports, “soccer betting is reaching higher volume in the sports books.”

Only time will tell if the trend continues during World Cup 2018 in Russia. Though for now, if the mighty dollar is any indication, soccer’s popularity in America is growing dramatically.

You can bet on it.  


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