The sports Italians love to bet on

Italy is one of the most sports-mad countries on the planet. Of course, the first thing you think of is Gli Azzurri – the nation’s beloved football team who won the European Championships in the summer of 2021. However, calcio only scratches the surface of Italians’ obsession with sport. 


No matter where you travel in Bel Paese the locals have a strong connection with their sporting heroes. Basketball, volleyball and rugby are just some of the other games that have devoted followings in Italy. 


Many fans complement their love of sport by placing bets, and in the modern era this is often done at an online sportsbook. In case we hadn’t made it clear yet – and we’re pretty sure we have done – Italy cannot get enough sports. Here are some of the nation’s absolute favourites. 




By far and away the most popular sport in Italy is football. It is nothing short of a national obsession. Italians have a huge amount of pride in their team, who have won four World Cups – only Brazil have more with five – as well as two European Championships. 


It is not just international football that is popular in the country either. Serie A, Italy’s domestic league, is one of the biggest and most entertaining competitions on the planet. In the 1990s all of the world’s best players found a home in Italy and until fairly recently Cristiano Ronaldo also played in Serie A. 


Women’s football is on the rise too, as evidenced by the near 17,000 spectators who took in Juventus’ Champions League tie against Chelsea in 2021. 


Football is the first port of call for many first-time bettors, and it’s easy to see why. Without exception, soccer will be at the top of whatever online sportsbook you decide to use, such is it’s immense popularity. 


Its prominence also means it has the most submarkets of any sport you can think of. Regardless of whether you are a novice trying to place a simple, outright bet, or a seasoned player seeking out something more niche, football has an incredible amount of choice for any sportsbook user. 


Rugby union


Italy is never going to be a rugby union superpower but that should not distract from the passion of fans for the sport that was introduced by English settlers in the early 1900s. The Italian national team is best known for its involvement in the Six Nations, where they annually face off against France, Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. 


They often collect the wooden spoon but they have managed to spring some satisfying shocks over the years. 


A good time to get into rugby betting if you have not already is when the Six Nations is on. You may even be treated to some free bets by some operators, and the competition between sportsbooks should result in good odds. Who knows, maybe you’ll predict the next big Italian upset?  




Volleyball, or pallavolo in Italian, is a highly intense sport which is great to watch as a spectator. Italy has one of the strongest national teams in the world too, as well as a highly-competitive and respected domestic league system.


The men’s side reached the World Cup final as recently as 2015, and they also secured a gold medal in 1995. The women’s side are starting to compete with the powerhouses of the sport too, reaching the 2018 World Championship final where they sadly lost to a strong Serbian side. 


Hopes are high for the 2022 World Championships though, a tournament which should see a significant spike in volleyball betting. It's a good sport for bettors with outright and live betting options in abundance. 


Water sports


As a country with a beautiful coastline, it is little surprise that Italians love spending time in the water. There are many popular water sports in the country but perhaps the most prominent of all is water polo. 

At the time of writing both the men’s and women’s national teams are ranked in the top 10 in the world and they have often troubled the top five over the years. 


Water polo and sports like it may seem a bit niche, so you will be surprised to learn that you will nearly always find them on online sportsbooks. 




Tennis is growing quickly in Italy with the country hosting an increasing amount of tour events in recent times. The biggest tournament of the year is the Italian Open which is held in Rome every single year – and has been since 1930 barring an interlude between 1936 and 1949. 


Hopes are high that it will see an Italian winner in the not so distant future too, with young guns Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner impressing everyone with their performances over the past few years. 


Tennis is perfect for bettors too, especially if you are a fan of live markets.