The Messi Effect: Unleashing a Betting Frenzy in MLS

The Messi Effect: Unleashing a Betting Frenzy in MLS

June 23, 2023

Soccer in the United States has long played second fiddle to more popular sports like football and basketball. Even among those Americans who consider themselves soccer fans, most of the attention goes to overseas organizations like the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, and Italy’s Serie A: when most Americans focus on soccer here in the States, it’s because of events like the World Cup where they’re rooting for their country itself rather than a distinct franchise.

While American soccer organizations like MLS have long taken the back burner compared to their overseas counterparts, there’s an excellent chance that that will change.

Lionel Messi’s Move to Inter Miami: A Game-changer for MLS

Inter Miami CF, a club that began operations just five years ago, is set to shake up the soccer world, as they agreed to a deal with one of the greatest players who ever lived, Lionel Messi, earlier this month. For a league that has long seen its best players poached away to the big guns in Europe, the move represents a much-needed change of pace. Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner as the greatest player in the world, will bring a flood of media attention, unlike anything MLS has ever seen, even as he enters his late 30s.

This isn’t the first time a move like this has occurred, as English superstar (and Inter Miami partial owner and team president David Beckham) signed with the LA Galaxy from 2007 to 2012, helping to elevate the club to back-to-back league championships in his final two seasons with them.

Inter Miami, currently occupying the bottom spot in the Eastern Conference, has experienced a remarkable shift in its potential as a contender with the addition of Lionel Messi to its roster. Despite his age, Messi showcased his ability to be a championship catalyst during the 2022 World Cup. This sentiment is echoed by oddsmakers, who have listed Inter Miami among the top contenders with the eighth-best odds to win the MLS Tournament at +2000. If you’re considering placing a bet on Inter Miami, use the available BetMGM bonus code to secure the most favorable odds for your wager.

Messi’s Move to MLS Could Shake Up the Betting Odds

Here’s a look at how Messi’s defection to the States will overturn the soccer world and how it will affect the MLS season moving forward.

Before the news broke, Inter Miami was listed around +15000 (150-to-1 odds) of winning it all this year. It’s not like they’ve gone on some massive winning streak because of the signing, and Messi won’t even join the club until the latter half of July: but bookies know better than to bet against the Argentinian phenom.

It’s obviously risky to bet on any team to go from worst to first, especially with Messi only playing for them for the second half of the regular season. Still, any time you see long odds coupled with a chance for sudden improvement, many bettors will leap at those odds: especially if they can hedge against them with another, safer bet to ensure a return.

On the home front, Inter Miami’s ownership group said they’re planning to expand their stadium capacity by more than 10 percent in order to account for the buzz that the signing will bring. Messi is still working out the details of his contract with the club, so we aren’t quite sure yet how much he’ll make (although it’s sure to dwarf the amount that most MLS players are making, with the addition of benefits like an ownership stake to help Miami float the cost) or how long he’ll play in South Florida for.


As one might expect from a club that’s currently in the cellar, Miami’s issues this season can’t be boiled down to one specific thing. They aren’t scoring much (something Messi can absolutely address), averaging less than one goal per game. Their defense isn’t great, but it’s respectable enough for a struggling club. Despite the jump in odds, they’re still a long shot to win much this season, although they’re in the mix to sneak into the playoffs.

Of course, Messi’s will continue to affect sports betting long after the initial signing. It’s almost certain that Inter Miami will have the best championship odds for the 2024 season once this campaign ends: it’s a slam-dunk sales pitch to any free agent to play for a championship alongside one of the best players the world has ever seen, and an aggressive (albeit savvy) offseason could elevate Miami to a near super team status in MLS.

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