They call it “America’s favorite pastime.” Yes, we are talking about baseball. Throughout the annals of sports history, baseball has been America’s sport. From little league all the up through Major League Baseball (MLB), almost every child gets some level of exposure to the game as either a fan or participant. When they grow up, many of them grow up as a fan of an MLB baseball team within their community. In some cases, these fans also acquire a taste for betting on professional baseball.

Arguably, betting on professional football (NFL) accounts for the largest part of the sports betting pie in America. Maybe, college football is a close second. But in recent years, betting on baseball has been picking up speed, likely passing pro basketball, hockey, and maybe even college basketball.

When it comes to why more people are betting on baseball in 2021, it would make sense that we need to identify what is different today than say five years ago. There are a couple of explanations that simply rely on common sense. There are a couple of explanations that might not immediately come to mind. Let’s take a look at why betting on baseball has become so popular in 2021.


Reason 1: Sports Betting Access

This reason falls into the category of common sense. More people are betting on baseball because they have more legal access to do so.

Prior to May of 2018, sports bettors had limited access to any kind of sports betting. If they wanted to bet on an MLB game, they had three choices: make the trek to Nevada where sports betting was legal, call the local bookie and bet illegally, or bet through an offshore sportsbook and push the limits of the law. For a lot of people, all of these options required too much time, effort, and risk

All of that changed in May of 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal ban on sports betting violated the state’s right clause of the constitution. That ruling immediately moved the sports betting decision to the states. Since that time, 27 states have legalized some form of sports betting. In most of those states, sports bettors now have easy access to a retail or mobile sportsbook where they can now legally bet on baseball.


Reason 2: Lack of Competition

During the dog days of summer, there is only one professional team sport being played in America. During most of July and August (pre COVID19) of each year, MLB baseball does not have to compete with other sports for sports betting dollars. In fact, there is very little competition in the month of June other than a few playoff games for the NHL and NBA. With only a game or two on the schedule each night, it allows bettors to focus on baseball.

By the way, sports bettors in America seem to favor MLB over the NHL and NBA. Even with the playoffs going in those two leagues, they really don’t offer much of a challenge for MLB in terms of sports betting dollars.


Reason 3: A Stat Lover’s Dream

Experienced sports bettors and good handicappers spend a lot of time looking for meaningful data that will help them find value bets when betting on sports. It would seem that betting on MLB and handicapping were tailor-made for each other. Why?

Since the beginning of time, baseball has lent itself to be a great sport for data accumulation. MLB has stats dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. How else would we know that Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1919?

For true blue sports bettors, having access to mounds of easily accessible data is a gold mine. It gives them a sense they have the winning answer or every game if they can just find it. Yes, baseball is a stat lover’s dream, and stat lovers are busy making the transition into avid sports bettors who love to bet on baseball.


Reason 4: Rise in International Interest

We started this article by saying they call it “America’s favorite pastime.” That’s a true statement. However, baseball has also grown in popularity on an international level. We know that because of the influx of foreign players into MLB. It’s commonplace for teams to roster players from countries like Cuba, Japan, South Korea, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

According to the website almost 40% of the players in MLB come from other countries. That affects the interest in betting on baseball in two ways.

First, a lot of people from the same countries as the countries that now populate MLB have become U.S. baseball fans while watching their favorite players from their home countries. That has translated into turning some of these foreign fans into sports bettors who enjoy betting on baseball.

Second, professional baseball in other countries has become a major form of sports entertainment. That applies to both participation and spectator interest. Anyone who doubts the quality of baseball in countries like Japan and South Korea might want to look at the quality of players who come from those leagues to play MLB. Find a baseball fan and sports bettor who doesn’t know the names Ichiro Suzuki or Shohei Ohtani. The fact is baseball sports bettors are wagering on baseball games from other countries and are using that as a catapult for wagering on more MLB games.

All four of these reasons have played a role in making baseball betting big business for U.S. bookmarkers. It will be interesting to see where things go in the next five years.