Yes, the top entries at any online bookmaker will reveal the fact that the popular sports get most of the action. While this is the be expected, the industry goes far beyond the biggest football matches playing in the Champions League and if there is something without a perfectly predictable result, you can bet money on the fact that people will look to wager on it.
The recent wave of “specialty” bets became the perfect storm for bookmakers in the UK as a second Royal Baby came into this world and the most unpredictable British General Election in the past decade took place. These two major events became betting highlights and some sportsbooks even featured special bonuses for the many punters looking to make some money from the date of birth, the sex and even the name of the second child of Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. Of course, the record breaking 100 million pounds estimated to have been gambled on British election makes it second to none.
The Royal Baby name and more
It wasn’t all good news when William and Kate decided on a name for their baby a week ago as William Hill reportedly lost about £100,000 to punters who correctly predicted that the name of the Royal Baby will be Charlotte. Her full name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana and she is now fourth in line to take the British throne, following her grandfather, her father and her big brother.
As soon as the announcement was made that the couple were pregnant for the second time, the major bookmakers in Britain didn’t waste any time and the thriving gambling community quickly responded with bets on just about every option made available. These included the date of birth, despite the fact that on the first pregnancy everything was kept quite secret and the birth of George came at an unexpected time, the gender and of course the name.
When everything was finally settled, William Hill announced that it will pay six figures in total to 5,096 bettors who checked the option “Charlotte” on their tickets. However, the bookmaker can still breathe relaxed since the situation could have been worse. If the parents decided on calling their baby girl Alice, the result would have been even more money paid to the punters since this was a long term favorite. Elizabeth and Victoria were also very popular, while Charlotte was only the fourth most popular bet from the options.
Overall, the bookmakers stated that they didn’t make much money from the name speculation and while there was a lot of hype around it, one of the spokespersons even called it a “complete waste of time”.
The 56th General Election
On 7th May, the 56th General Election was held in the UK to determine who will be governing the country in the near future. The results saw the Conservative Party, with David Cameron in front, win the majority of seats in the House with 331, or 51%. The second is the Labour Party led by Ed Miliband with 232 seats (36%) and the third is the Scottish National Party with 56 seats (9%).
What was important from a betting point of view is that the race became incredibly close towards the finish and bookmakers were on the job of course, offering betting options online for all interested punters. It is estimated that about £100 million was placed in bets on the biggest British bookmakers.
It was an interesting series since the bettors didn’t really have to know a lot about the political climate and have information about the main candidates. Instead, the battle was mostly done through news and the interpretation each punter had on the results and how every big article influenced the voters in the UK to go one way or another. As a result, many interested users took part in the action online, giving their votes for bets ranging from just a few pounds, to thousands.
The trend started back in 2010, when bettors placed about £25 million in online wagers for the election. It then continued in 2012 for the American Presidential Election, in 2013 when the new Pope was appointed and when the Scottish Referendum took place last year. This year also had the biggest presence on social media so online punters certainly had a lot of information available to feel comfortable with their choice.
Paddy Power offered 32 different betting markets for the election and this included the number of Conservatives that will lose their seats and the number of Green Party seats won. For those that like playing long shots, Ladbrokes offered 20/1 for Ukip not getting at least 5% of the votes (it got 12%).
All in all, the results were a complete surprise and according to The Times, David Cameron’s party getting a 331-seat majority “shook British politics to its core”. It also shook the bookmakers for more than a pretty penny. But again, even with the huge amounts of money placed in bets, the big brands don’t stand to make a lot from these markets.
Is it really worth it?
So if bookmakers make a lot more money from the popular sports than they do from these special betting markets that are only created for certain events; why do they even bother? The short answer is that they have to, especially when other companies in the market offer them. And if they are going to do it, they should do it properly.
For bettors, it is fun to place bets on something different from time to time and things like the birth of the Royal Baby or the UK General Elections have proven to be very popular lately. While the UEFA Champions League is being played right now, some small distractions are not really a bad thing for gamblers and the fun element should not be overlooked. Of course, we also have to consider the winning possibility here since getting the name right or the winning Party will not just make it all about laughs and giggles, and will also land an additional income to the account. With that being said, most regular punters don’t consider these type of bets as being part of their regular bankroll and so they spend additional funds instead of their carefully thought-out budget for a sporting season or a set period.
For bookmakers, special markets can increase their brand visibility, with news outlets covering the stories and presenting some of the options available from the respective companies. Players who are already registered online can see the options and consider them a fun way to blow off some steam with a few small bets. The popularity of the events and the fact that it is very easy to switch online sportsbooks can also mean a loss of action for those that don’t feature any options. Attracting customers to these short-term markets can also provide an advantage to the bookmaker since most of them are not really perfectly informed on the subject, or anything close to the information and knowledge they have on the sport they usually wager on. Overall, even if they seem to be a waste of time, not doing it will be a on more than just time and this can include action, bets and even customers.
As long as the odds are fair and lines are sharp, there should be no reason why both punters and bookmakers can’t take part in special betting options from time to time, with the ones that are really a must being the popular ones, no matter if they are represented by the birth of a famous couple, the elections in a large country or even the results of some reality TV shows.
Entertainment and Betting
Since we touched on the subject of betting on reality TV shows, we should dive a bit further in this segment that is quickly growing and comes with its set of unique characteristics.
For those that aren’t familiar with the concept, some of the big online sportsbooks often times feature betting lines for popular reality TV shows, like American Idol, X Factor, Survivor, The Bachelor and for the Oscars. This allows interested customers to easily place their bets on the ones who they believe will win and thus get money by being a careful viewer of a show. The odds generally change with each episode so having the experience needed to point out the winner right from the start can result in a significant payday. However, most of the action takes place towards the final episodes of the season in the reality competitions, when it is all down to a few talented competitors.
Despite the fact that there were some concerns regarding bookmakers using entertainment betting to attract a younger audience, it can be very fun to watch the final performance of your favorite contender and know that if he/she wins, you also get a prize for your support. The similarities between some reality TV shows and the big sports are very easy to see and so both of them make great betting opportunities for their fans.
Game on: E-sports
We can’t talk about some of the interesting betting options available at sportsbooks without mentioning e-sports. This is by far the fastest growing segment and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, with the major tournaments attracting millions of viewers and thousands of fans who want to place their money where their mouse is.
Last year, more than 20 million unique viewers tuned into watch the annual Dota 2 tournament, known as The International. Hosted by Valve, the fourth installment of the biggest Dota tournament of the year had more than 2 million concurrent viewers, doubling its numbers from 2013. The event was streamed by several channels on Twitch, with coverage provided in multiple languages and even including viewing options for newcomers.
In-game, ESPN provided the matches as they were being played, making sure the gap between e-sports and “real” sports was even narrower than ever before. And there was a lot to see as the final came down to two Chinese teams, with Newbee emerging victorious and winning over $5 million for their efforts.
A similar game, League of Legends, saw even more action for its main tournament last year, with Season 4 of the World Championship getting 288 million cumulative daily unique viewers over its one month of action. The final was watched by 11.2 million concurrent viewers.
To put things in perspective, the Super Bowl XLVIII had 111.5 million viewers.
With so many players eager to cheer on their favorite teams, bookmakers simply have to list the options and make them known to the community in order to get a lot of action. And it is not just about using real money to bet when it comes to e-sports since various items that can be used in-game are also used as currency at some specialized betting sites. These items of course cost money, with Valve even providing a market on Steam to buy and sell them, despite the fact that they are purely esthetic.
Place Your Bets
The conclusion is that people like to bet; be it for the thrill of it or making it a hobby that can generate some nice winnings. From the Champions League final to the final of X Factor, the options make the betting industry much bigger than what it appears to be at first and a variety of lines is always a good thing for a community of potential bettors with vastly different preferences, tastes, hobbies and financial possibilities.