After 15 years, you can finally bet on Michael Phelps to win Olympic gold

In 2001, John McCain helped to make betting against Michael Phelps all but illegal. Of course, you couldn't bet on him, either.

The Arizona senator's push in Congress to ban betting on all amateur sports pressured Las Vegas sports books into prohibiting bets on amateur events such as the Olympics. (As part of the deal with lawmakers, Las Vegas' restriction on wagers on Nevada college sports was lifted.)


When Phelps was 15, the Olympic Games were still seen as a competition of largely amateur athletes. Now any Olympian worth his weight in gold, silver and bronze is a professional in some sense, from the NBA superstar making millions on the court to the gymnast with the endorsement deal.

About a year ago, Las Vegas caught up to the rest of the world. After several casinos banded together to lobby the Nevada Gaming Commission, the law was changed. You no longer have to go to offshore or international books to bet on, say, which small guy will lift the most weight.


Phelps never has been a long shot to win gold, and even in his fifth Olympics, he's a safe bet to get the podium. For strictly informational purposes, here are odds for his individual events, courtesy of Vegas-based Bovada.

100-meter butterfly

1. Phelps (1-1)

2. Chad Le Clos (2-1)

3. Laszlo Cseh (7-2)

200-meter butterfly

1. Cseh (6-5)

2. Phelps (5-4)


3. Le Clos (13-4)

200-meter individual medley

1. Phelps (4-5)

2. Ryan Lochte (2-1)

3. Kosuke Hagino (3-1)