Football betting is a huge and growing global industry with an annual worth of billions of dollars. While betting offices have been linked to horse racing, online bets can be a challenge for British football.
Betting on football matches is a global phenomenon with a lot of this trade in the Asian markets being illegal. This is due to the fact that betting huge amounts are more likely to cause match-fixing, problem gambling and the risks of corruption and fraud.
How Lucrative is the sports betting industry?
Current estimates, which include both illegal and legal markets, suggest that the value of the sports betting industry is anywhere between $700 billion and $1 trillion (£435-625 billion). About 70% of this amount comes from football.
Sports Radar has to bet and analyze sports data, betting contracts for about 55,000 matches a year. It manages the accounting system, which covers 350 global betting bureaus, to monitor suspicious bets and has raised fears about one percent of the matches it has monitored.
Although this does not seem to be significant, it is possible that the results of 500 or more matches, whose capital turnover is estimated at millions of pounds, is manipulated and considered criminal activities.
Interpol says the Soga operation, which it launched to reduce match-fixing, has carried out more than 2,300 raids on facilities around the world as part of its campaign to dismantle the results-manipulation gangs. It has already booked more than $27 million (£16.8 million) in cash and shut down illegal gambling bets that dealt with bets worth more than $2 billion (£1.2 billion).
How do people bet?
While betting in Asia is usually limited to certain options, in Europe there are far more options than the traditional obvious, such as win, lose or tie. The betting bureaus offer more than 200 markets for matches all over the world. For example, one can bet on the first and last goal, the right result, the end of the first half, the number of goals, Hattrick or penalty and the number of corner kicks.
Some markets are betting on time, offering chances like scoring a goal, yellow or red card, cornering or penalty in the first five minutes of the match.
Is gambling in football a new phenomenon?
Football betting appeared in Britain exactly 90 years ago. Within months, hundreds of thousands of fans were filling weekly coupons in an attempt to predict the outcome of matches on a Saturday afternoon, hoping to win cash prizes.
In 1961, Jeff Nicholson, a factory worker in the historic town of Castleford, west of Yorkshire, won the grand prize of £152,000, equivalent to about £5 million. More than 3.2 million pounds have been paid to some 61 million winners over the years. More than 500,000 fans still fill these coupons weekly.
We trust that you are now able to decide for yourself whether it is viable to bet on soccer matches or not. Remember to keep your wits about you and follow games closely in order to place an informed bet.