World Cup Betting: England’s Loss Is Bookmakers’ Win


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Before the World Cup began there was a lot of speculation that soccer betting enthusiasts would make it the biggest single wagering event in history.  By all accounts, action has been brisk at sportsbooks all over the world but nowhere has there been as much frenzy over World Cup betting as in England.

England had high expectations heading into the World Cup and that–combined with the ubiquity of sports betting in the country–resulted in a ton of action on the ‘Three Lions’.  Along with England’s passion for soccer exists an equally strong passion for gambling, and there may not be a sports league on the planet where betting is much of an integral part of the game as the English Premier League.  Premier League teams have bookmakers’ logos on their uniforms and are allowed to operate wagering kiosks at the stadium on game day.  All you need to do to appreciate just how ingrained sports betting is in English soccer is turn on a televised game–you’ll often see big computer generated ads in the statement with in-running betting quotes during the match itself.

While England had–on paper at least–a good team heading into the World Cup, many sports handicappers quickly realized that the low odds on them to win were based as much on the prevalence of sports betting in the culture as anything else.  That’s probably much of the reason that a very good team like Portugal was priced at +3000 or higher before the tournament–the country has a very restrictive position toward sports betting.  The government runs a legal sports betting monopoly in Portugal, and online betting is illegal there.

You don’t need to be a forensic accountant to realize that bookmakers were holding a lot of money on England, and with their elimination on Sunday they can now breathe a sigh of relief.  They don’t want to come right out and say that they’re happy England lost, but from a financial standpoint they most definitely are.  David Stevens, who works for a large European betting establishment called BetCoral, had this to say:

“On the one hand we have been spared a potential £50 million payout that World Cup success for England would have cost us, so Germany’s victory is cause for some celebration.”

The potential flip side is an erosion of interest among the casual fans:

“However, we would expect England’s absence to signal a downturn in interest in the rest of the tournament among our customers, and more importantly, we’re all suffering as England fans right now, as not even we wanted us to lose to Germany, especially when we scored a perfectly legitimate goal!”

Bet 365′s Steve Freeth sounded a similar tone:

“We’re pleased that we’ve got one of the biggest positions in our outright book turned over, but disappointed that England have been knocked out of the tournament at such an early stage.”

Bookmakers also benefited from England’s offensive struggles and particularly those of Wayne Rooney. Rooney was the favorite for ‘most goals in the World Cup’ before the tournament, but he ended up not scoring any.

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