It feels like an eternity since Neymar hit that third goal for Barcelona at the Champions League Final, doesn’t it? The new football season is moving ever closer, and fans are reaching their gagging-for-it peak as we count down the days. While the majority of fans are consumed with on-the-field thoughts like Bastian Schweinsteiger’s ability to pull strings for Manchester United or Aston Villa’s hope of making it through even without Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph in their ranks however, for a growing number of other fans, thoughts turn to the numbers, odds and prices.
There’s more than just football that will be returning this summer as well as betting. There’s no doubt about that, betting is huge industry in this lucrative obsessive seven-days-a-week environment that football now is immersed in. The once-discriminatory sport of football betting has now been accepted by the sport as well as media, government, and the vast majority of society. How did we get to this place? What triggered this huge change in perception and attitude?
Let’s rewind back to our 20th Century. The betting industry was primarily focused on two sports: horse racing and greyhound racing. Bets on these events were housed at the racing track or at betting establishments scattered all over the country. The shops weren’t particularly inviting places, and there was an air of sexiness (especially in cities) which resembled the more rough pubs of the area. Women were affluent, men seldom dared enter and you had to pay tax on every bet made. Horrible, eh? Slowly, however, things started to improve The introduction of shop televisions in 1987, the opening hours on Sundays and in the evenings began in the early part of 1990 and they even eliminated the betting tax in 2001.
However, football was not a priority in the context of betting. The pools (ask your Dad) were the ones who ruled the roost back in these simpler times. When the paper for trade betting The Racing Post, was launched in 1986, they had just three pages on sport out of greyhounds and horses. Now on a busy Saturday there can be as many as to 40.
What is the reason for the huge interest in football betting? You’re probably well-versed in this story. In 1992, satellite television channel Sky Sports bought the rights to England’s top division for a mind-blowing (at the time) PS304m. The team was sacked Elton Welsby and John Bumstead and in came the knowledge of Andy Gray and pin-up looks of Ryan Giggs. As Sky said themselves, this was a whole new ball game.
The key to this revolution when it came to betting was the scale. During ITV’s last season of holding the rights to the top division they broadcast live league games on most weekends throughout the season but certainly not for all of them. Sky was now planning to broadcast a live game every Sunday and one on Monday. Live football was the ultimate market for betting companies to advertise football betting, so this increase was most welcomed. The rest…football became sexy, and Manchester United got to No.1 in the charts.
At first, the bookmaking industry was slow respond to the surge in the interest in football. While football coupons and other marketing materials were being sold by betting outlets, the bookmaking industry held a firm grip on how people could bet on football. First of all, if you were planning to place a bet on one team, they must be live on television in order for your bet to be accepted. Bets made on games that weren’t live had to be bracketed along with two other options. This was referred to in the minimum trebles rules. However, things were changing. when in-running betting was launched, this allowed gamblers to bet on a live game on TV as it was taking place. Though it was considered a standard practice for many decades later this was a significant advancement back then and as more and more games being broadcast live, interest was growing.
The other key event in the explosion of football betting was the advent and growth of the internet at the beginning of the 21st century. Instantly, the dual pleasures of being able to bet at home at a lower cost and getting more competitive odds from a multitude of new online-only operators made betting more appealing to the young generation. Then add the fact betting tax was removed in 2001, and it was truly a game changer.
After being severely restrained in the early 90’s, the millennium brought a brand new kind of football betting in which you can bet on anything! It is now possible to bet that corner as well as a team losing, a player to score the goal in any given moment and you can even place a bet on East Stirling to beat Elgin in one bet. The dark times were over and betting was now a thing of the past.
The staidness of the traditional betting shop guard was replaced by exciting new brands such as Paddy Power, Betfair and Bet365. These firms tapped into this new generation , making betting sound thrilling and aspirational for non-professional football enthusiasts. The number of innovations was increasing as they were made available as these tech-savvy companies took on the online world. Exchange betting, live streaming and the cash-out option transformed the field into a thrilling and alluring one for fans of football.
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The mainstream media picked up that and betting became a regular accompaniment to the game itself. As well as reporting on the news of the team for an actual game, Sky Sports would also give odds on the match. This was unimaginable in the past. Many steps have been taken. While horse racing’s market share shrink the football betting market was growing stronger similar to the sport itself.
In-running (or in-play) betting has added a new exciting strand to gambling , where a major twist during a game could have dramatic or disastrous consequences. Perhaps the most famous soccer change of the century occurred in the Champions League final when Liverpool were 3-0 down at half-time, came back to draw 3-3 before eventually winning through penalties. Joy for the Anfield club , of course, but a nightmare for one Norwegian gambler who staked PS10,167 bets on AC Milan at odds of 1/10 with William Hill when they went 3-1 up. These odds suggest that players will take home PS1 for every PS100 staked. Therefore, our Norwegian friend from Oslo had to pay a meager sum of PS101.67 If AC Milan had gone on to take home the trophy.
However, on the other hand this game also produced an amazing story of winners for football punters. Again at William Hill, one lucky person placed PS50 on Liverpool to take home the trophy at odds of 100/1. They were beaten (and seemingly sunk) at half-time.
Football betting has become smarter too. A lot of punters rely on stats and data to help frame their bets. While it is a socially acceptable strand of entertainment, betting on football can be an intense battle between the bookmaker and the customer. Opta Stats have become a prominent presence on many 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 statistics, analytics, and data to further their progress and it’s not surprising to discover that owner Matthew Benham has his roots firmly in the gambling industry.
In 2022, placing bets on football games is now a standard element of the weekend for millions of football fans. You don’t need to be in a smoky shop and it’s fairly easy to follow. Football betting has emerged as the most important product for betting firms. There are more operators forming as well as our viewing time is clogged up with increasing advertisements from these businesses. The 2010 World Cup brought in around PS1 billion worth of revenue within the UK. Recession which recession? The growth in the sport is the reason for this growth together with the rise of internet technology. The days when gambling was an unsavory secret are gone.