It’s like it’s been forever since Neymar banged in the third goal of Barcelona on the Champions League Final, doesn’t it? The new football season is creeping ever closer and anticipation levels are reaching their peak as we look forward to the coming days. Many supporters are occupied by their thoughts on the field, such as Bastian Schweinsteiger’s capacity to pull the strings for Manchester United or Aston Villa’s dreams of getting through the season without Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph in their ranks however, for a growing number of others, their thoughts are turned to numbers, odds and prices.
There’s more than just football that will be returning this summer but also betting. It’s true. it, betting is big business in the lucrative, obsessive, seven-days-a-week environment that football now takes part in. Once a social sore, betting on football has been embraced by the sport as well as media, government, and the vast majority of society. But how did we get to this place? What was the trigger for this dramatic shift in our perceptions and attitudes?
Let’s rewind back to our 20th Century. Betting really only focused on two sports: horse racing and greyhound racing. Bets on these races were housed at the racing venues or betting shops dotted all over the country. The shops weren’t exactly friendly places; they had an uneasy vibe (especially in the cities) that resembled the rougher pubs of the area. There were no women and men. rarely entered and you had to pay taxes on each bet struck. Horrible, eh? Then, slowly, things got better Shop televisions were added in 1987, starting on Sundays and evenings in the first half of the 1990’s and they even scrapped betting tax in 2001.
The sport of football was not a priority in the context of betting. Pools (ask your dad) were the ones who ruled the roost back in these simple times. When the paper for trade betting The Racing Post, was launched in 1986, it had only three pages dedicated to sport outside horses and greyhounds. On a busy weekend the number of pages can reach up to 40.
What is the reason for the huge fan-base for football betting? Well, I’m sure you’re very familiar with this tale. Back in 1992 satellite television channel Sky Sports bought the rights to England’s top division for a mind-blowing (at that time) PS304m. Out went Elton Welsby and John Bumstead and in came the insights and insight of Andy Gray and pin-up looks of Ryan Giggs. As Sky claimed, it was a completely new game.
The key to this revolutionary change when it came to betting was the scale. When ITV was having the rights to the top division, they broadcast a live league game most weekends during the season but certainly not for all of them. Sky was now planning to stream one every Sunday and another every Monday. Live games were the real market for betting companies to spread the word about football betting, thus this growth was pleasing. There’s the rest…football was sexy. Manchester United got to No.1 in the charts.
In the beginning, however, the bookmaking industry was slow respond to the surge in interest in football. While football coupons and other marketing materials were being sold by betting outlets, the industry was in control of the way people could place bets on football. In the beginning, if you were looking to bet only on one team, the team required to be watching live on television in order for your bet to be accepted. Any bets placed on non-live games were to be bracketed with two other options. This was known by the minimum-trebles rule. However, things were changing. in the mid-90’s in-running betting was made available, allowing players to bet on live television game while it was taking place. Taken for granted two decades later, this was a huge advancement back then and with increasing numbers of games being broadcast live, interest was increasing.
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Another major event that led to the explosion of football betting was the advent and expansion of the internet at the dawn in the 20th century. The two joys of being able to bet at home at a lower cost and getting more than a few odds with a variety of new operators that only operate online made betting a whole lot more appealing to the younger generation. Then add the fact that the tax on betting was eliminated in 2001 and really was a game-changer.
Since being heavily constrained in 90’s the millennium brought a brand new kind of football betting where everything is possible! It is now possible to bet on the next corner and a team to lose, a player to score the goal in any given moment and you can even bet on East Stirling to beat Elgin in a single bet. The dark times were over and betting was no longer a problem.
The traditionality of the old traditional betting shop guard had been replaced by new and exciting names like Paddy Power, Betfair and Bet365. These companies tapped into this new generation , making betting seem exciting and aspirational for casual football enthusiasts. The number of innovations was increasing as they were introduced as these tech-savvy companies took on the online world. Exchange betting, live streaming and the cash-out option transformed the game into an exciting and appealing one for football lovers.
The mainstream media picked up on this , and the odds became a regular accompaniment to the game as well. As well as reporting on the news of the team for an actual game, Sky Sports would also give odds on the match. It was unimaginable in the past. The world has seen huge progress. While horse racing saw its market share decrease Football betting gained momentum, just like the sport itself.
“In-running” (or in-play) betting has created an exciting new strand of gambling where a huge twist during a game could have terrifying or catastrophic results. Perhaps the most famous soccer turn around of the century took place in the Champions League final when Liverpool were 3-0 down at half-time was able to come back to draw 3-3 before winning on penalties. The celebration was for the Anfield club , of course, but a gruelling nightmare for a Norwegian gambler who staked PS10,167 in AC Milan at odds of 1.100 and William Hill when they went 3-0 up. The odds show that players be awarded PS1 for each PS100 staked. Therefore, our friend from Oslo was due paltry winnings of PS101.67 If AC Milan had gone on to take home the trophy.
On the other hand, that game also created many amazing stories of winning for football punters. Again at William Hill, one lucky man put PS50 betting on Liverpool to win the trophy at odds of 100/1. However, they were at a loss (and appeared to sink) in the second half.
The betting on football has become more sophisticated too. A lot of punters rely on stats and data to frame their bets. While it is an acceptable and socially acceptable form of entertainment, betting on football is an intense battle between the bookmaker and the customer. Opta Stats have become a prominent presence on a variety of bookmaker sites as more and more punters take advantage of data in order to earn profit. Brentford FC have adoped a model that uses stats, analytics, and data to help them grow and it’s not a surprise to learn that the owner Matthew Benham has his roots firmly in the gambling industry.
In 2022, placing bets on football games has become a staple element of the weekend for millions of people. You don’t have to enter an smoky store and it’s easy to follow. Football betting is now being used as the key product for betting firms. Numerous operators are being formed and our time is being clogged with ever-growing advertisements from these businesses. The last World Cup brought in around PS1 billion worth of revenue for the UK. Recession is what? The growth in the game itself has fueled this growth and the rise of the internet. The days of gambling as an unsavory secret are gone.