Football fans love to beat the odds

Long gone are the days when the only sports bet of the year would be 50p on the Grand National. Today you can bet on everything in sport, from results and scorers, to the amount of corners, throw-ins and yellow cards.

In the last few years the gambling market within sport has been completely transformed and the emergence of mobile apps have developed an online betting culture like no other. You don’t need to make a trip down to the bookies on a Saturday morning anymore because you can gamble from the comfort of your home, workplace or holiday destination.

Sports betting has increased in market size by 79.5% from 2009-2013 whilst the previous most common form of betting, poker, has been steadily decreasing. The market is now said to be worth, around £3 billion with it expected to double by 2018.

You can’t miss the hundreds of stupid betting slips which get tweeted around the world every weekend, from the huge wins, to the massive losses and narrow misjudgements. Nor can you miss the adverts enticing you to bet on the next scorer during half time when you’re watching a game on SKY.

But what is the fascination with betting? Is it simply to win some cash, like any other form of betting, or is there more to sports gambling? And why do so many football fans waste even more money every weekend – despite paying hundreds to watch their team anyway?

Even I have been dragged into the growing gambling culture that comes with football, a couple of years ago I won a bet at 120/1 of Wimbledon to be 0-0 at half time, win 2-1 and Garry Alexander to score anytime – but that’s as far as my betting prowess goes.

So, to get a better insight on the issue I spoke to some people who know a little more about betting than me; to hear their best gambling stories and see if they had any clear reason why they place bets every weekend. Because it seems there is more to sports betting than trying to win a few extra quid.

Dan O’Loughlin could probably tell you the nearest betting shop to every League Two and Conference football ground and without doubt he’ll place a bet every Saturday on his way to football, but he insists it’s all just a bit of fun.

“Football gambling just gives the game a little bit extra, if my team are losing and the game is appalling at least I have another game (or games) to look at to see if I’m going to win my bet.”

“It’s just another way of showing your love and knowledge for football” explained he football obsessed teenager who recently won £300 on an eight-team accumulator.

Maybe that’s the explanation, every football fan wants to be seen as the best. The most knowledgeable, the number one fan of their club. If they win an outrageous bet; does it make them seem more knowledgeable? Maybe to them – but it’s most probably just luck!

But Dan’s point that it gives another dimension of entertainment to the game is what most football fans argue their reason for betting is too. As David Weeks, a Plymouth fan, explained:

It’s all well and good putting on a random bet for a slight bit of entertainment, but our gambling nature in the beautiful game has gone far further. It has now become built in to the everyday traits of being a football fan.

Ross Hancock lives and breathes football, and this means gambling on it too: “I would say that I am a casual gambler, I do not exceed monstrous amounts if I can but gambling on football fixtures is something that has really grown in the last few years.”

“There was a period where no matter what bet I placed it lost, and I would estimate that my losses for the entire football season were close to £400 at a guess, arguably more. That’s £400 I could have put to good use but instead I gambled it away like a fool chasing my losses.”

Out of 69 bets Ross has placed since the start of the 2014/15 football season, he has lost 59, although his winning bets have been averaging more than £50 a time which leaves him still with a total win at the moment of £7.08.

The radio presenter from Staffordshire, keeps track of his betting with a spreadsheet (now if that doesn’t make him a real sports gambler – what does?!). “I keep a track of all bets that I make in a spreadsheet to both ensure I am not kidding myself over winnings and also see where my most successful bets occur and with which teams/style of bet.” Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 17.26.41 “When you’re winning it is a marvellous feeling and you can justify your gambling habits, but when the losses keep on coming, it takes a brave person to stop chasing and say that enough is enough.”

Each and every football fan has their own way of betting and reason for betting, but what is unarguable is the fact that this market is continuously growing. It is now a regular routine for someone to wake up, place their bets, head to the pub and to watch the football on a Saturday afternoon.

The bookmakers have seized this opportunity with new emerging markets, enticing offers and crazy odds. For example; with SKYBET for tonights game AFC Wimbledon vs York; an all League Two FA Cup replay you could place 55 different types of bets. Ranging from the original score and scorer to goal times and an odd or even amount of goals. With BET365 you can bet on the time of the goals and the winning margin. Whilst both offer you free bets if you deposit a certain amount of money.

SKY also have partnerships with with football clubs – due to them being the sponsor of the football league. If a fan registers themselves with SKYBET with their football club, their team will get a % of winnings for every bet you win yourself. Another enticing offer to get football fan into the gambling market – not that they seem to need any encouragement.


Although the gambling market has causes some problems within football, with match fixing a problem at certain levels of the sport. It seems football fans have welcome the betting culture into their ideals of football, and it is just another way that modern day football has evolved.

Picture credits: Steve Daniels, Ross Hancock, SKYBET

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