Exploring the Most Popular Sports Among Australian Punters

July 1, 2024 by Staff

Exploring the Most Popular Sports Among Australian Punters

Sports betting is super popular in Australia, one can even say it's a part of their culture. As their continent, Australians are pretty unique in their choice of sports. Horse racing and cricket rank high on the list, along with tennis, rugby and soccer.

This is why Australian online casinos offer sports betting opportunities that are diverse as the punter's preferences. Understanding what sparks that sporting thrill in Australian bettors helps regulate this immense industry and enhance their experience. 

So, let’s get into the most popular wagering choices in Straya and explain the many ways you can place a bet and win it!

Historical Context of Sports Betting in Australia

Since the first online bet in 1996, internet-assisted sports betting in Aussieland has exploded in popularity! 

Online betting really kicked off with the start of the new millennium. In 2001, the industry reached $2 billion in value. This is when bets became legal with the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. Today, over 6% of Aussies bet on sports online.

The rise of new technologies and the expansion of betting platforms all contribute to the ever-increasing number of punters. The convenience and accessibility of betting through mobile apps have made sports betting even more appealing to Aussies. Plus, nowadays, you can place a wager on virtual and esports!

The Most Popular Sports Among Australian Punters

Undoubtedly, Aussies are spoiled with betting market choices and diverse odds. However, some sports are simply better than others. The most thrilling choices in Australia include Australian rules football, cricket, and horse racing, which attract millions of viewers and punters.

Australian Rules Football (AFL)

Australian Rules Football includes several leagues, one professional (AFL) and other local and semi-professional leagues like:

  • VFL (Victorian Football League)

  • SANFL (South Australian National Football League)

  • WAFL (West Australian Football League)

  • NEAFL (North East Australian Football League)

  • TFL (Tasmanian Football League)

There are also various junior, amateur and community leagues. 

Founded in 1896, the Australian Football League strengthens Australians' national identity and engages them in the community. From March to September each year, Aussies come together to cheer for one of the 18 teams competing in the league. 

The Women’s League (AFLW) usually starts in early February; for men, it’s pre-season with many exhibition matches. Important events include the Ester Round and the traditional ANZAC Day match between Collingwood and Essendon. In May, the Indigenous round starts, celebrating Aboriginal culture. The final AFL rounds begin in August, after the mid-season draft. The grand finale is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Given the popularity of the AFL, punters have developed regular betting patterns and trends.:

Betting on favourites or underdogs – This is where savvy players often look for value in underdogs. Those who like to win the inflated odds search for potential hidden horses and place contrarian bets.

Market movement betting – Some bettors follow recent changes in odds and place their bets accordingly, knowing that insider information heavily influences market movements.

In-play strategic betting allows punters to capitalise on unpredictable events and others to bet safely in the last minutes of a match.

Recent performances and large fan bases can skew the odds for football bettors, but experienced punters know how to avoid these psychological biases and place their wagers on smart bets. 

Other factors influencing betting include home-ground advantage, injury reports and winning streaks.

Popular bets include:

  • Head-to-head bet (moneyline) - predicting the winner of a match.

  • Line betting (spread betting) - Betting against the bookmakers' points handicap

  • Total points betting - Betting on whether the total points scored by the teams will be over or under a specific number.

  • First goalscorer bet - Betting on which player will  the first goal in a match 

  • Player performance betting- Betting on the number of goals, marks, and disposals of individual players.

Rugby League (NRL)

The National Rugby League is one of Australia's most popular and competitive sports, with a significant following and betting activity. Although the NRL lags in attendance popularity behind the AFL, they rival in betting activity. Rugby League bettors like it to capitalise on intense rivalries and high-stakes matches such as State of Origin and City versus Country contests. So, both bettors and betting behaviours differ between the AFL and NRL.

This is mainly due to their geographical differences. While the AFL appeals widely in southern states like Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, the NRL is more popular in New South Wales and Queensland. So, the NRL has more bettors in regions where Rugby League is the dominant sport. Also, rugby is faster-paced and packed with score unpredictability, which appeals to in-play punters who seek the thrill of immediate action.

The NRL features 16 teams from New South Wales and Queensland. The season overlaps with the AFL (March-October). Some key events include the State of Origin Series, which pits the best players from New South Wales against those from Queensland. These series amass large viewership and betting interest.

Mid-season, there's the All-Star match and the Magic Round, where the teams play a single round at one venue for the thrill of viewers and punters alike.

NRL bettors prefer head-to-head and line betting over other bets, and many take advantage of rugby’s dynamic nature in in-play betting markets. Predicting the NRL outcome is not as challenging as previewing the odds for 2024 six nations, but is as exciting for Aussie punters.

Total points betting is also popular Because of the high-scoring nature of the games. Statistics show that favourite teams win in rugby matches 65% of the time. However, unpredictable outcomes are not rare. This makes underdog bats quite attractive for risk-takers.  player injuries, especially those of key players like the halfback, significantly affect the odds, patterns and weather conditions.

Cricket

Australian summer is the peak season for cricket matches. The season runs from October to April, with the biggest betting activity piling up around the tournaments and matches. 

Straya is the host of many domestic and international leagues. The major domestic cricket tournaments include The Big Bash League (BBL), the Sheffield Shield, and the Marsh One-Day Cup. Internationally, there are: 

The Test Series is where the Australian cricket team plays multiple series against international teams.

The Ashes is an extremely popular test series between Australia and England, held every two years in England and Australia interchangeably.

ODI and T20: One-day Internationals like these are the lead-up to Global cricket tournaments.

The betting opportunities for Aussie cricket lovers are mixed and diverse. The classic is match betting, where punters place bets on the outcome of a game. Then, they can bet on the series winner of a multi-match series like the Ashes. In-play betting is also popular, allowing punters to score as the action unfolds.  

Prop bets for in-match events are also available. They can include bets on the next dismissal or the number of boundaries. Other cricket-specific bets include:

  • Match Winner

  • Top Batsman

  • Top Bowler

  • Opening partnership: Betting on the team that will score the most runs before losing its first wicket of the game

  • First winnings lead: Betting on which team will score the most first-innings runs.

  • Man of the match: betting on the cricket player who will be named the man of the match.

Read our experts’ prediction on the finalists in the 2024 BBL if you’re curious to find out more about Aussie cricket odds. 

Horse Racing

Australia can be considered the homeland of horse racing. Popular since the 19th century, the sport has evolved to become one of the most attended events on the continent.

Each year, around 2 million Australians attend thoroughbred racing. The Melbourne Cup Carnival, for example, is the pinnacle of horse racing events in Australia, attracting around 300,000 spectators. Other popular events in the horse racing calendar include the Caufield Cup, Australian Derby, Victoria Derby, Cox Plate, etc. Australia hosts 66 of the 193 Group One races in the world and has over 370 thoroughbred racing clubs.

The Australian Racing Fact Book reveals that in 2022, Australians wagered $29.144 billion on racing. The most popular bets are straight bets like:

  • Win - placing a wager on a horse win

  • Place - Betting on a horse to finish in the first 3 places.

  • Each-Way- combo of the Win and Place bets. 

There are also exotic bets like Quinella, Exacta, and Trifecta, which bettors can combine. Punters can combine up to four races, and there are also mystery bets. 

Soccer

The success of the national team, Socceroos, marks the rise of Australian soccer's popularity. It's not just viewership and betting interest that has risen; Australian soccer has risen professionally. The search for online sports books makes it easier for fans to bet on soccer matches. Soccer is one of the top betting sports globally, and Aussies follow the trend. Soccer season is action-packed and full of betting opportunities.

The A-League is Australia’s premier domestic soccer tournament. It features local teams from across the continent and one from New Zealand. From October to May, fans get to cheer for their favourite players and teams awaiting for the Grand Final. There's also the FFA Cup, a tournament that includes clubs from all levels of soccer in Australia. 

Internationally, Australia's national men’s and women’s teams participate in major events like the FIFA World Cup, the AFC Asian Cup, and the Olympic Games. These events glue soccer lovers to the screens and incite punters to action.

Interest in soccer betting in Australia is equally distributed between national and international matches. The most popular bets are match outcomes, goal totals, and player-specific bets like goal scorers. In-play betting is quite popular as it gives punters more chances to win.

The popularity of soccer on a global scale makes it fun for Australian punters to bet on. Younger Aussies are likelier to bet on international competitions, such as major European competitions like the English Premier League or the UEFA Champions League. 

Tennis

Every January, Australia hosts the first major international tennis tournament—the Australian Open. It’s one of four Grand Slam tournaments around the globe, and it has a viewership of over 2.8 million. Other events include the ATP and WTA tours, like the ATP Cup, Brisbane International, and Adelaide International. As their name suggests, all these feature top international players. 

These tennis tournaments are fun to watch and offer Australian fans various betting opportunities. 

Those who like to play it safe are backing top players like Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal, all of whom boast multiple victories. 

Punters also watch out for hardcourt performances, which usually strongly impact the scores. Other important factors that Aussies consider are the players' world rankings, recent success, and experience in Grand Slam tournaments. Also, Aussie bettors like supporting fellow compatriots, making them a popular choice. 

Bettors often play Tennis futures (tournament winners), match outcomes (match winner), set scores (sets won by one or two players), total games (total number played and how many each player can win), other props bets (combos), and live in-play bets.

Conclusion

Sports Betting is practically a national pastime in Australia. The rich sports (and betting) history and winning opportunities make the Aussie betting constellation virtually limitless.  

Starting with the AFL—the national pride of Australians—and passing the ball to the quintessential Aussie cricket, sports are everytime and everywhere Down Under. Australians have a knack for predicting match winners, top batsmen, and even the outcome of cricket series like the Ashes. Another sport that causes the Aussie blood rush is horse racing. The unique sport comes with betting trends and tricks.

The Australian Open is another unmissable event, and soccer is rising in popularity. These sports get Aussies fired up for punter action, which adds thrill of their widespread sports culture.