Copa America Betting: At the Copa...
Euro 2004 has sent British bookmakers to dreamland. With bookies hauling
in a record $600 million during the tournament, Euro 2004 became the
biggest sports betting event in history. Sportsbooks could barely
conceal their delight in Greece’s victory as 100:1 outsiders. Dubbed the
biggest upset in soccer betting history, Greece’s win turned an
extremely profitable tournament into an outrageously profitable one for
sportsbooks worldwide. Bettors piled in on Portugal in the final, making
a Portuguese win the biggest potential payout of the tournament. But
Greece duly obliged for the bookies, despite having never won a match at
a major tournament before Euro 2004. Only Latvia at 200:1 were bigger
outsiders, and just four bettors worldwide picked a Greece-Portugal
final at 125:1 ahead of the tournament.
Some clever punters, however, are laughing all the way to the betting
shop window. An Asian businessman claiming to be a first time bettor won
$616,000 by backing Greece’s in their path to the final. Impressed by
their opening win over Portugal, he put $15,000 on Greece to win the
tournament at 50:1 with William Hill, a betting shop in England. The man
continued to place a series of bets after each Greek match, staking a
total of $45,000 on the eventual champions. A spokesman for the
bookmaker believes it was the biggest bet on a single team they had ever
seen, and within the top three payouts the company has ever made.
Others hedged their bets after backing Greece early in the tournament.
One bettor who put $1,200 on Greece at 100:1 locked in a profit by
taking Portugal in the final with a $105,000 wager. But he guessed wrong
by slightly favouring the hosts, profiting ‘only’ $15,000 from Greece’s
victory instead of a potential $30,000 if the host nation had won. Not
surprisingly, following their spectacular win, the Greeks have been cut
to 33:1 from 150:1 to win the World Cup.
Other high rollers were not so lucky. One gambler lost almost $200,000
by picking Spain to win Euro 2004. Others backed France and Italy with
stakes as high as $100,000. But the most frustrated loser was a
Singaporean who had won $160,000 betting on Portugal to reach the final.
The man squandered his winnings by plumping down on the hosts to prevail
in the final against Greece. Easy come, easy go, it seems.
The vast sums changing hands during Euro 2004 have prompted calls to
legalize sports betting. In Thailand, where $806 million worth of bets
were placed on the tournament, the government is considering legalizing
and regulating a practice that puts millions into the underground
economy. But Thai government decided to take away cable TV from prisons,
to prevent inmates from watching and betting on Euro 2004.
For British bookmakers, the biggest single match of Euro 2004 was
England’s opener against France. More than $50 million worth of bets
were taken on singles, totals and props. But the industry had to fork
out nearly $1 million to bettors who fancied the Czech Republic’s Milan
Baros as the tournament’s top scorer. With $600 million in profits,
however, the bookies are more than happy to payout. Ladbrokes, the
world’s biggest bookmaker, described the tournament as ‘absolutely
phenomenal for business.’
Those suffering from Euro 2004 withdrawal can turn to South America’s
equivalent: Copa America. Twelve nations across Latin America will
compete throughout July in the world’s oldest soccer tournament. But
with several countries resting their best players for upcoming World Cup
qualifying games, plenty of opportunities are available for handicappers
to profit from.
Brazil (3:1): The five-time World Cup champions are favourites with the
public and the bookies, but don’t be fooled. All of Brazil’s top players
are skipping the tournament. You’re more likely to find Ronaldo,
Ronaldinho, Kaka, Roberto Carlos and Gilberto on the beach instead of on
the pitch. Certainly, even a second-string Brazil is loaded with talent,
but not at these odds.
Argentina (3:1): The other South American giants own a record 14 Copa
America titles. They enter this tournament with plenty of motivation,
but intense public pressure could easily overwhelm the Argentines. Key
players like Hernan Crespo and Walter Samuel won’t be on the roster. And
Argentina’s poor form going into this tournament -- a 0-0 draw with
Paraguay and a 3-1 defeat to Brazil -- makes this price far from
Peru (5:1): The hosts are well-placed to capitalize on home advantage.
The home team has won 21 of the 42 Copa America tournaments, and Peru
have won it twice before. Visiting teams will struggle in Peru’s high
elevation stadiums. And unlike other teams, the Peruvians will field a
full squad. They have a good chance to prevail, and at a decent price.
Mexico (10:1): There’s tremendous value with Mexico since they’ve never
won the Copa America. But a number of close finishes, and respectable
World Cup performances suggest this could be their year. Ranked fourth
in the world by FIFA, it would be a mistake not to grab the fantastic
odds on this team.
Others countries to consider include the defending champions Colombia
(11:1), and perennial challengers Uruguay (20:1) and
We enjoyed a profitable Euro 2004, going 17-14 in our plays for a profit
of +321 units. Our props had a 9-8 record, bringing in +575 units. In
total, that’s almost $9,000 profit for a dime player. Not bad for a
couple of week’s work.
This week’s picks:
Game Date: Wednesday, July 7, 2004 18:30 PM
Matchup: Mexico vs. Uruguay
Selection: Play on Mexico
Line: -0.5 / 120.0
Reason: There’s huge value in a Mexican team that isn’t getting the
respect it deserves. The Mexicans have a full-strength roster,
comprising mostly domestic players who are fit and healthy. Uruguay will
miss nearly all of their top players: Recoba, Pandiani and Chevanton are
all out. They are clearly more focused on qualifying for the World Cup.
Ahead of this tournament, the Uruguayans have been in poor form, losing
3-0 to Venezuela and 5-0 to Colombia. Expect a similar scoreline in this
game. Take Mexico
Game Date: Wednesday, July 7, 2004 20:45 PM
Matchup: Argentina vs. Ecuador
Selection: Play on Argentina
Line: -1.0 / 108.0
Reason: Ecuador have worked hard in qualifying for the World Cup, and it
seems the bulk of their efforts will remain on that goal. At best,
however, Ecuador is a mediocre side that cannot be expected to replicate
its World Cup form at the Copa America. Despite missing a few of their
best players, the Argentines still have far more quality than their
opponents. Argentina have won the last four games in this series. Three
of those four victories were by at least two goals. Take Argentina
Game Date: Thursday, July 8, 2004 20:45 PM
Matchup: Brazil vs. Chile
Selection: Play on Chile
Line: 1.0 / -125.0
Reason: Brazil are fielding a second-string team, and they are missing
all their top stars. Historically, the Brazilians have struggled at high
elevation stadiums. The Chileans are no pushovers, and will prove a
tough nut to crack by a depleted Brazilian side. And just in case Brazil
does prevail, it won’t be by more than one goal. Chile are a solid team
and they drew 1-1 with Brazil four weeks ago. Expect a similar result in
this one. Take Chile