Surprisingly, the fastest growing sport right now is Pickleball. That means more and more people are looking to place bets on it.
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When most people think about American sports, Pickleball is not the first thing to come to mind. And yet, somehow, Pickleball has managed to become one of America’s fastest-growing sports and it shows no signs of slowing.
As with any sport, popularity comes hand-in-hand with betting. So, it should come as no surprise that people are starting to wonder if there is any way to win some money on the sport.
Unless you have been hitting the local Pickleball court, you might be wondering what Pickleball is. And, if you’re so inclined, where you can get into Pickleball betting. We’re here to break it all down.
What is Pickleball?
Put simply, Pickleball is a racket/paddle game similar to tennis. Games are played with two or four players using paddles to hit a ball over a net. The court itself is similar to the court in badminton and the paddles are similar in size to ping pong. The sport can be enjoyed at all ages but is most popular among people over the age of 65.
The game can be played indoors or outdoors and is inexpensive to start playing. All in, an interested person can buy a racket and some balls for around $30. Access to courts is usually free to the public.
Games are quick, usually lasting only 15 minutes per round, making it a great way to sneak in some exercise. The ease of access and low barrier to entry is just some of the reasons why so many people are picking up Pickleball.
Where Was Pickleball Invented?
Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, an island off the coast of Seattle, Washington. Three dads who were looking for a way to entertain their bored kids. Allegedly, after returning from a round of golf with Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, Joel Pritchard tried to set up a badminton game but couldn’t find a shuttlecock. Instead, they used a wiffleball and lowered the net. Since its inception, it has gone on to become the official state sport of Washington State.
The Rising Popularity of Pickleball
Despite the geriatric associations that some have with the sport, Pickleball saw a 650% increase in players from 2013 to 2019, and growth was not limited to older Americans. Part of the appeal is that people of all ages can get in on the action. The only thing a player needs is hand-eye coordination.
Demand for Pickleball is so high that the country is struggling to keep up. Currently, there are only around 10,000 places to play Pickleball in the US. To help meet the demand, many clubs are converting tennis courts to Pickleball courts or building new courts altogether at a rate of several dozen every month. Waiting lists for leagues are increasingly stacked with eager players.
USA Pickleball, the national governing body of the sport of Pickleball, has become attractive to corporate sponsors. It is quickly becoming a business in and of itself with revenue being reinvested to help the sport continue to grow.
The first professional tournament, the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour, started in 2018. It has since been acquired by the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, an NHL team. A second pro tour, handled by the Association of Pickleball Professionals also took place in 2018.
In September 2021, Major League Pickleball launched in Texas. It featured the world’s-best 32 professional players (16 men, 16 women) competing in a four-day tournament.
While most of the coverage is limited to online streams, television deals have been struck with:
- CBS Sports
Will Pickleball be in the Olympics?
There has been a recent bid to get Pickleball in the Olympics. So far, the International Federation of Pickleball has amassed 70 of the 75 member nations needed to gain entry to the games. Most of the 70 nations joined in the past three years, a testament to the rising popularity of the sport.
You never know. The way things are going, we might just see the sport at the Olympics.
So, Where Can You Bet on Pickleball?
Good news for the bettors out there, the aforementioned PPA just signed a long-term deal with Genius Sports to promote the sport worldwide. You might recognize Genius Sports as one of the major data providers in the sports betting world which recently signed a huge deal with DraftKings and the NFL.
Since Genius Sports is so intertwined with sports betting, the partnership likely means that sports betting and in-game betting will become available in the not-too-distant future. According to the press release:
“This partnership will set the stage for regulated sports betting on PPA events for the first time in history. Genius Sports has been granted the exclusive rights to capture and distribute live data and video broadcasts from over 1,200 PPA matches per year with its global network of over 150 sportsbook partners.”
Which Sportsbooks Offer Pickleball Betting?
Interestingly enough, no sportsbooks currently allow for Pickleball betting in any of the legal betting states. It would seem that the team over at Genius Sports sees a great opportunity with the game of Pickleball.
Tennis, perhaps the most closely related sport to Pickleball, routinely ranks as the second or third most-bet-on sport globally. Genius appears to believe that Pickleball will be as popular in the coming years.
With shorter matches and more time in between points, there is an excellent opportunity to place in-game bets on who will score the next point several times a game. Bettors should expect to see in-game action sportsbooks roll out Pickleball betting.
For those who remain skeptical, one must only look to the popularity of ping pong, which gained traction early in the pandemic. Interest didn’t wane either and table tennis remains one of the most popular sports to bet on in some states, commanding an impressive handle everywhere it is offered.
Keep it locked here as Pickleball rolls out across sportsbooks.