Betting turnover on the World Cup will run into the billions of dollars – and bookmakers fear a big payout if Gareth Southgate’s England side finally win the trophy after a 56-year wait. The World Cup is generating huge interest from bettors, in stark contrast to the other quadrennial global sporting showpiece, the Olympics, which “barely creates a ripple,” a leading English bookmaker told TUSEN. Bettors will set their eyes on Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe on the biggest football stage in Qatar from Sunday, paving their way to the doors of bookmakers around the world or betting online.
The Olympics may attract a global television audience compared to the World Cup, but with 32 different sports, it doesn’t whet the gambling public’s appetite. “The World Cup is by far the biggest gambling event we see, with no comparison to the Olympics, which hardly creates a ripple among gamblers,” David Stevens, head of public relations at Coral bookmakers, told TUSEN.
“Estimates for this World Cup’s global revenue vary wildly. While we’ll never know the exact figure, it’s fair to say it will run into the billions of dollars globally, given the far-reaching appeal of the World Cup, from America to Asia and all points in between.”
William Woodhams, CEO of the world’s oldest bookmaker Fitzdares, said The Beautiful Game appeals to everyone. “Football is a mature betting market, the largest in Europe and the World Cup is popular with the casual gambler to the seasoned professional or high stakes gambler.”
Woodhams and Stevens say the kick-off timing, with Qatar three hours ahead of Britain and two hours ahead of Western Europe, is also a godsend for European bettors and bookmakers alike.
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This time-friendly scenario also lends itself to a significant increase in the number of live bets during a match, according to Woodhams.
“This will probably be the first World Cup where the in-play market represents at least a third of total bets,” he said.
“It’s the way the sport goes and it makes the 90 minutes a more exciting experience.”
‘Can not complain’
For Stevens, the biggest fear in business terms is England winning and also Wales – in their first World Cup final since 1958 – coming deep into the tournament. “A victory for Gareth Southgate’s men is a real possibility, and with it a multi-million pound payout to patriotic gamblers,” said Stevens.
“In our favor we have Brazil and Argentina running ahead of us, these teams will have their support, but not to the extent that England will have.
“That said, we’ve avoided a World Cup win in England since 1966, so we can’t really complain when it finally happens this year!”
Stevens puts aside his patriotic cap for his dream scenario: that the final will go to penalty kicks, as most bettors bet on an overall winner after 90 minutes. “It’s going to be a huge few weeks, now all we need is England against Brazil in the final, and yes, you guessed it, Brazil win on penalties after a 0-0 draw!”
However, gamblers are nothing but imaginations with the opportunities they see to make money, as Woodhams discovered with one of their account holders.
“Someone wanted to bet on the first player to be expelled from Qatar,” he said. “It wasn’t a real person, just that a player would be suspended within the first five days of the tournament. “We didn’t take the bet because we couldn’t agree on a price with them! They wanted 50/1.”
Woodhams says that traditionally, more money is still allocated to a match based on the result or who scores first — and that’s not just for tournament favorites.
He said games with what he called a “tall story”, or interest beyond football, would attract bets. For example, “I see Americans pop a patriotic Franklin ($100) on their team against Iran.”
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