After another patient wait between four-year cycles, we’re officially back in a World Cup year as the countdown to Qatar enters its final phases.

For all the controversy that’s unfolded in regards to how the winter World Cup has come to fruition, it now seems all the more tangible that the competition will kick off as scheduled in November.

And as much as the masses of spectators will be eager to see another World Cup grace our screens, it’s big business that’s arguably even more excited for the biggest advertisement opportunity of the century to date.

That’s after the 2018 World Cup in Russia broke all kinds of viewership figures, with an estimated record 3.572 billion people aged four and over—more than half the global population—tuning in to watch the biggest World Cup of its kind thus far.

That kind of unprecedented attention on a single sports competition is too big an opportunity for advertisers to pass up in regards to getting eyes on their brands—and British bookmakers inevitably stand to benefit as well .

But just how exactly are the giants of gambling and other industries preparing for the 2022 World Cup, and will Qatar’s new slot in the calendar lead to a boom in business?

Bigger competition, bigger numbers

Everything about the upward trend of recent World Cups tells us Qatar will be the biggest event of its kind so far, whether that’s money spent on sponsors, advertisement, bookmaker revenue and potential profit for all those companies.

The 2018 World Cup, for example, was hailed as generally one of the most entertaining World Cups to date, and all despite the fact Russia was projected as a potentially problematic host due to its public image.

It didn’t prevent the competition from breaking barriers in betting turnover, however, and post-tournament reports supported the notion that 2018 raked in record revenue for bookmakers all over the globe.

Analysis conducted by FIFA and its service provider, Sportradar, found an estimated €136 billion ($155 billion) was wagered on the 2018 World Cup—or an average of €2.1 billion ($2.4 billion) per match.

It was estimated that more than $3.2 billion was bet in the United Kingdom, which is more than double the figure the country recorded for the 2014 World Cup.

If there were any doubts that the moral dilemma surrounding the 2022 World Cup—such as the Guardian’s report in early 2021 that more than 6,500 migrants have died constructing the tournament stadia—it’s increasingly clear this won’t hinder business in many sectors.

For example, AdWeek reported in November that NBCUniversal and Telemundo had already sold out its major sponsorship spots for the tournament, including sponsorships for pre-game, halftime and post-game shows. Per the report, Telemundo has "doubled the number of ad sales compared to the same time" ahead of Russia 2018, and executives suggested the "unusual fall timing of the competition” had even increased interest around the event.

Contrary to the idea that the winter scheduling would harm business and betting ahead of 2022’s biggest sports showcase, it’s plausible this World Cup may well carry on trends and become the most lucrative contest of its kind.

Expanded U.S. betting market

One of the major factors in why the upcoming World Cup could draw ground-breaking numbers lies across the pond, far away from the Asian and European markets that tend to account for much of the tournament’s business.

The United States now has 16 of its 50 territories set up to accept wagers on any number of mainstream sports after the path to widespread legalisation was lit beginning in 2018.

What’s more, that figure is only growing as New York sits among the most prominent examples of states ready to open its doors to sports betting in early 2022, with others still certain to follow.

FOX Bet content integration specialist Jacob Blangsted-Barnor told Fox Sports the 2022 World Cup handle in the U.S. “will easily be in the billions around the world.”

"It’s always the biggest thing we book in the United Kingdom,” he added. “And this will be the first World Cup in the United States where you’ll have all these states taking bets.”

There’s a big slice of the profit pie to be had, too. The World Cup routinely dwarfs the Super Bowl—American football’s premier event—in viewership and attracts at least three times as many viewers on average.

The last three World Cup finals attracted a median 536 million global viewers, while Super Bowl LV (2021) drew a total of only 148.5 million viewers worldwide. That’s a lot of eyes to get on one’s brand or product at the same time, with a huge proportion of the planet expected to watch all or some of soccer’ biggest spectacle.

Organisers will be hoping the United States make it through CONCACAF qualifying for that purpose, all too aware of the value America could bring with many states bringing a newly liberal view to sports gambling.

Die-hard fans in the U.S. will of course tune into the competition regardless of whether the Stars and Stripes are featuring, but the odds of attracting the casual to wager are much higher if they have a stake in the race.