Not everyone in the country were in despair last night after England were knocked out of the World Cup by Croatia. Bookmakers had a massive £150M liability on the Three Lions bringing ‘football home’ and the end of the dream was a good news from them.
As the Financial Times are reporting shares in most of the UK biggest bookmakers rose on Thursday as investor were showed relief of having avoided a massive payout on Sunday night. Paddy Power Betfair was up 3 per cent, William Hill was up 2 per cent and GVC rose 1 per cent in early trade on Thursday.
England started their World Cup campaign in a humble way and not many believed they would go that far. This is why bookmakers were happy to take as many bets as possible on the Three Lions to win the tournament at rather high prices of 15/1. As the tournament progressed the liability on England continued to rise with British bookies that took an estimated £1.2bn in bets during the World Cup event. Most consumers also took advantage of offers online and on apps making it even more difficult for bookmakers to control liability. Only on the opening England’s match against Tunisia there were around £20m bets being placed.
As the tournament progressed England delivered a much better display than most anticipated and they also had the advantage of having a rather ‘easy’ pass to the semi-finals. They did in fact avoided all the most threatening teams and progresses through by winning against an average Colombia and Sweden in the knockout stages. This caused the patriotic stream of bets to continue and increase and many bookmakers were seriously worried it would have end up really bad for them.
‘England fans are historically by far the biggest loser in British’s bookies books,’ casinoBiggestBonus spokersman John Pentin told us. ‘Financially speaking only England winning the World Cup would have caused some serious hit to them and could have been the long-awaited revenge from England’s fans over the bookmakers.’ But, it wasn’t to be. ‘The patriotic punt has been very popular during the whole tournament and that would have continued if England were able to reach the final. Since the game against Belgium England fans have backed their country insanely hoping that this was the right time for football to come home’.
So even if it has been a rather scary ride for bookmakers seeing England having such a great opportunity to win the tournament, no sportsbooks will complain about the handle England brings. After all this was a really good tournament as far as the betting industry is concerned: the atmosphere was great and there have been huge surprises in the tournament if you think the likes of Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Spain were all at home before the semi-finals. In addition to that the numbers of bets taken in the 2018 World Cup was 3 times the volume of the previous World Cup. This was mostly due to the maturity of mobile betting that has allowed football fans to back anything they liked, anywhere and anytime.
The World Cup is expected to have caused something of a cushion for the industry after the Government’s crackdown on fixed odds betting terminal with the maximum betting limit cut to £2 from £100 to try cut down on problem gamblers.
But the England’s performance in the World Cup has not only benefitted the betting industry, it has benefit the whole economy. The Centre for Economic & Business Research has predicted a £720m spending surge only with England being in the round of 16 stage.
Retailers and the hospitality industry were the main beneficiaries, in addition to bookies, of the positive performance of the Three Lions in Russia.