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Assessing the 7 Weirdest Sports You Can Bet On

| April 10, 2022 11:45 am PDT
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Football, basketball, hockey, baseball – are the four most popular sports in the United States. Not only are they popular among sports fans, but sports bettors love them as well.

Those occupy the highest spots in America’s sports betting pantheon, followed by sports like tennis, boxing, MMA, and so on. Some sports haven’t been getting much traction from the sports betting community in the US but are, nevertheless, frequently covered by online sportsbooks.

Those are the sports I’ll focus on in this post, starting with one born in America back in the 19th century.

Rodeo

Although cowboys had been competing in rodeo-like events in the early 1800s, historians placed the birth of this sport in 1869. The birthplace of rodeo is a town in Colorado called Deer Trail.

Over the years, the sport grew to be one of the most popular contests in the states within the western US, especially Texas, South Dakota, and Wyoming, all of which have made rodeo the official state sport.

It’s an American sport, but its name comes from Mexico. It was Mexican cowboys, a.k.a. vaqueros, who gave the sport its name. The word rodeo translates from Spanish as “round up.”

Today, rodeo is an umbrella term for several different practices, including calf roping, bronco riding, and steer wrestling. The most heavily featured event is bull riding when it comes to rodeo betting.

The goal of the sport is to stay on the bucking bull’s back for eight seconds. If the cowboy pulls it off, he wins. If not, it’s the bull’s win. That said, it’s possible to bet not only on the rider but also on the bull.

Most sportsbooks focus their rodeo offer only on the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), which you can think of like the Super Bowl of bull riding. This event has been on the offer of Las Vegas sportsbooks for years, with MGM Grand Resorts being the first establishment to do so.

With the emergence of online sportsbooks, rodeo betting has spread across the United States. At the moment of writing, there are several states where mobile rodeo betting is possible. Some of those include Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, and others.

Of course, nobody would blame you for wanting a more traditional betting genre, such as horse racing. For that, be sure to check out the best horse racing betting sites.

Cornhole

As its name suggests, cornhole is a sport involving corn kernels and boards with holes in them. What you got to do is try and throw a 16-ounce bag of kernels through a hole in a raised board placed 27 feet away.

If you’ve never heard of cornhole, no one can blame you as this is a fairly new sport. Although similar games were played decades ago, the history of modern cornhole starts in the 21st century.

One of the biggest milestones in the history of the game happened in 2015 when the American Cornhole League (ACL) was founded.

Fast-forward to 2021 and DraftKings has become the official sponsor of the American Cornhole League. The sportsbook is now the only place on the internet where it’s possible to bet on ACL-sanctioned events legally.

Drone Racing

Drone racing does exactly what its name suggests – it’s a sport in which pilots race their drones to see which one’s the fastest.

To control the drone, a player typically uses a hand-held radio transmitter. The pilot uses a live feed from the camera mounted on the drone to see where the drone is going.

The first-ever drone racing competition took place in 2011 in the German city of Karlsruhe. A decade later, DraftKings decided to get involved with drone racing in the company’s effort to introduce novel sports to American bettors.

That’s when the sportsbook inked a sponsorship deal with the Drone Racing League (DRL), an international organization numbering 12 pilots and about 40 crew members. Their number is expected to grow exponentially in the future. As the popularity of the sport increases, so should the number of participants.

Drone racing is likely to get more popular in the next couple of years, and it’s not just because of DraftKings’ involvement.

As technology advances, the sport will get more affordable. Given that the drones used in the competition achieve speeds above 80 mph, it’s needless to say that one needs a lot of money to get involved.

Jai Alai

You can think of jai alai as the Spanish version of squash. The point is to bounce the ball off a walled space in both sports. However, unlike squash, which uses racquets to hit the ball, jai alai uses a curved wicker basket called cesta.

Born in Spain centuries ago, the sport is practiced around the globe, particularly in regions with a strong Spanish cultural influence – South America, the Philippines, and so on.

The sport used to be incredibly popular in Florida, especially in the second half of the 20th century. There are reports of big crowds – sometimes numbering 15,000+ people – attending jai alai events in Miami.

In recent years, however, its popularity has diminished in the US. However, we could see its revival in the future due to the introduction of this sport to the world of sports betting.

Curling

Curling is a winter sport in which players slide a 44-pound stone on a 150-feet-long sheet of ice, using brushes to direct it to the target.

They’re not allowed to touch the stone. Instead, they control its path by sweeping the ice, which allows them to adjust the speed and direction of the stone.

Now that you know how curling is played, you understand that you can’t play it in your backyard. Of course, unless you live somewhere where there’s a lot of ice.

This explains why curling is popular in countries like Canada, Norway, and Scotland, which is the birthplace of this sport.

Kabaddi

You might think of kabaddi as an exotic sport, but for 1.7 billion people living on the Indian subcontinent, kabaddi is pretty mainstream. In fact, this is India’s second-most-watched sport, whose popularity has skyrocketed in recent times.

By “recent times” I mean the last couple of decades, which is a tiny portion of time considering that kabaddi has been around for more than 4,000 years.

In the ancient past, it was practiced relatively scarcely, with the beginning of the 20th century being the time when it took off. Everything started with local kabaddi competitions in India before spreading to neighboring countries.

Then, in the 1930s, kabaddi had its breakthrough on the global stage. Known as “hu tu tu” back then, it was presented to the world as a demonstration sport at the 1936 Olympics, the ones held in Nazi Germany.

For this, the Indian kabaddi contingent received a medal from no other than Adolph Hitler. This might’ve had to do something with the fact that the sport’s popularity went downhill from there.

Kabaddi’s resurrection started in the 21st century when Indian television started broadcasting premium competitions. Outside India, the Western sportsbooks have been aiding kabaddi’s push to the mainstream. They’ve made bettors interested in kabaddi by including it in their offer.

Chess

Is chess a sport or not? Yes, it is a sport. At least that’s what the International Olympic Committee says.

According to them, chess requires physical exertion, the same as other sports. Their reasoning is that mental actions will manifest themselves physically if intense enough. And chess does require intense cognitive efforts.

Professor Robert Sapolsky from Stanford University suggests that chess can burn as much as 6,000 calories a day. That’s more than two times the number of calories burned while running a marathon.

Not everyone agrees, though. Even though more than 100 countries recognize chess as a legit sport, many don’t. Among those are the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Sweden.

“Chess is too difficult to be a game but not serious enough to be science or an art.”Napoleon Bonaparte

Regardless, online sportsbooks think of it as a sport. Evidence of this is that most of them place chess in the sports betting section.

Bettors have all sorts of chess betting options before them, the most common market being the tournament winner. Less frequently, sportsbooks also offer to wager on individual chess matches. However, this only happens when there’s a lot at stake in the match, e.g., World Chess Championship.

If you’re interested in betting on some of these weird sports, check out the top sports betting sites.

Zarko Naric

Zarko Naric – the World's Greatest Sportswriter, according to his grandma.

Zarko started writing for GamblingSites.com in 2019, covering sports like soccer, tennis, and basketball,  as well as some more niche sports like cycling, for example.

In addition to writing news, picks, and blog pieces focused on sports, Zarko’s also been covering politics, TV/music contests, and so on.

More Posts by Zarko Contact Zarko

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