Bookmakers and Gambling

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It seems like a long time since Neymar scored the third goal for Barcelona in the Champions League Final, doesn’t it? It’s a good thing that the football season is moving ever closer and the excitement levels are at their highest as we look forward to the coming days. Most supporters are occupied with thoughts about the game, like Bastian Schweinsteiger’s potential to pull the strings for Manchester United or Aston Villa’s hope of making it through with the absence of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph in their ranks, for an increasing number of fans, their thoughts are turned to the numbers, odds and prices.

It’s not just football that will be returning this summer as well as betting. And make no mistake about it, gambling is a big business in the lucrative, relentless, week-long atmosphere that football takes part in. It was once a source of social discord, but football betting is now accepted by the sport media, the government, as well as the majority of the population. How did we get to this stage? What was the trigger for this dramatic shift in perception and attitude?

Let’s take a trip back to 1920 in the Century. Betting was really limited to two sports: greyhound racing and horse racing. Bets on these events were kept at racing places or the betting establishments scattered around the country. These shops weren’t the most welcoming venues; there was an uneasy vibe (especially in the cities) that was similar to the rougher pubs in the area. There were no women and men. rarely entered and you were required to pay tax on every bet struck. Horrible, eh? Slowly, however, things started to improve – shop televisions were introduced in 1987. the opening hours on Sundays and in the evenings began in the first half of 1990, and they also eliminated betting tax in 2001.

The sport of football was a secondary consideration when it came to wagering. In the pool (ask your Dad) was what ruled the roost back in these basic times. When the newspaper for betting on trades called the Racing Post, was launched in 1986, it ran just three pages on sport outside greyhounds and horses. On a busy weekend the number of pages can reach up to 40.

What is the reason for the huge fascination for betting on football? You’re already familiar with the story. Back in 1992 satellite television channel Sky Sports bought the rights to England’s top division for an astonishing (at that time) PS304m. In came Elton Welsby and John Bumstead and in came the knowledge of Andy Gray and pin-up looks of Ryan Giggs. As Sky declared, this was a brand new game.

The secret to this revolution when it came to betting was the scale. In the final season of ITV having the rights to the top division they broadcast a live league game every weekend during the season, but not on every one of them. Sky plans to broadcast a live game every Sunday and one on Monday. Live football was the ultimate shop window for betting companies to spread the word about football betting, so this increase was most pleasing. The rest…football turned sexy and Manchester United got to No.1 in the charts.

In the beginning, however, the bookmaking industry were slow to react to this surge of fascination with football. While new football coupons and marketing materials began to be sold inside betting establishments, bookmakers held a firm grip on how people could bet on football. In the beginning, if you were planning to place a bet on just one team they needed to be broadcast live on TV for your bet to be accepted. Any bets placed on non-live games were to be bracketed along with two other bets. This was referred to as the minimum trebles rules. The rules were evolving however, in the mid-90’s in-running betting was launched, this allowed punters to bet on a live television game while it was happening. Although it was a common practice for a few decades later it was an incredible innovation back then and, as growing numbers of games being broadcast live, the demand for it was increasing.

The other key event in the boom of betting on football was the rise and development of the internet in the dawn in the 20th century. Instantly, the dual pleasures of being able bet from home and taking advantage of competitive odds from a multitude of new online-only operators made betting a whole lot more appealing to the younger generation. Add to that the fact that betting taxes were repealed in 2001, and it truly was a game changer.

After being severely restrained in the early 90’s, the millennium brought a brand new kind of football betting, where you can bet on anything! It is now possible to place bets on the next corner or a team that loses or a player that scores an goal at any moment, hell you could even place a bet on East Stirling to beat Elgin with a single wager. The dark days were over and betting was now a thing of the past.

The staidness of the old traditional betting shop guard had been replaced by innovative new brands such as Paddy Power, Betfair and Bet365. These firms tapped into this new generation , making betting sound thrilling and aspirational to casual football fans. Many new innovations were introduced as these tech-savvy companies took on the online world. Exchange betting, live streaming and the cash-out option transformed the world into an exciting and appealing one for football enthusiasts.

The wider media picked up the news and soon odds became a regular accompaniment to the game itself. As well as reporting on team news for the live game, Sky Sports would also mention the odds of the match. This was not possible in the past. Massive strides had been taken. While horse racing’s market share decrease and football betting gained momentum similar to the sport itself.

“In-running” (or in-play) betting has introduced an exciting new strand of betting where a dramatic turn in a game can result in terrifying or catastrophic results. The most well-known football change of the century occurred during the 2005 Champions League final when Liverpool, 3-0 down at half-time returned to draw 3-3 before winning through penalties. A great moment for the Anfield club of course but a sickening nightmare for a Norwegian punter who placed PS10,167 on AC Milan at odds of 1.100 together with William Hill when they went three points ahead. These odds suggest that players will be awarded PS1 for every PS100 staked. So our Norway-based friend from Oslo had to pay a meager sum of PS101.67 If AC Milan had gone on to win the trophy.

On the flipside the game also brought many amazing stories of winning for football bettors. In the case of William Hill, one lucky man put PS50 betting on Liverpool to take home the trophy with odds of 100/1 when they were down (and almost sinking) in the second half.

Football betting has got smart too. A lot of punters rely on stats and data to frame their bets. In addition to being an acceptable form of entertainment betting on football is also a true battle of wits between bookmaker and customer. Opta Stats have become a prominent presence on many of bookmaker websites as more and more gamblers use data to earn money. Brentford FC have adoped a method that relies on stats, analytics, and data to help them grow and it’s no big surprise to learn that the founder Matthew Benham has his roots firmly in the gambling industry.

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In 2022, placing the bet on a football game is now a standard part of the weekend for an overwhelming number of fans. It’s not necessary to go into an smoky store and it’s easy to follow. Football betting is now being used as the primary product of betting companies. Numerous operators are being formed as well as our viewing time is overloaded with ever-growing advertisements from these companies. The last World Cup brought in around PS1 billion worth of revenue in the UK. Recession What recession? There’s no doubt the growth in the game itself has fueled this growth along with the birth on the web. The days of gambling being a naughty secret have long gone.