Soccer Betting Articles

UK Bookies: Where the Action Is

During my adventures here in London, I wanted to get a deeper understanding of the UK sports book scene and how it compares to the US-oriented books offshore. But to understand how UK bookies work, you have to understand the culture of sports in this country. Britain is one of the best sporting countries in the world. With passionate, knowledgeable fans and a wide variety of sports it’s hard to think of a better place to be a sports fan. The Brits invented most of the major sports played in the world today, like soccer, tennis, golf, cricket and rugby (which evolved into baseball and football), and a host of other sports and games like billiards, badminton, curling, boxing, darts, squash, ping-pong, bowling, water polo . . . They even have a TV game show called A Question of Sport where celebrity soccer players, racecar drivers, jockeys and other athletes quiz each other on sports trivia. But most striking is the popularity of horse racing, which is a huge spectator sport with a loyal fan base. Every Saturday the major TV networks set aside a few hours to show the races. Can you imagine CBS, NBC or FOX doing that? It would be suicidal for ratings. But in Britain only soccer is bigger than horse racing, so it’s entirely understandable.

With that backgrounder, we can now make sense of how bookmakers work in this country. I interviewed Tim Bishop of Skybet, a major online sports book, for his take on North American sports betting. For all UK bookmakers the most widely bet sport is horse racing, since there are dozens of races each day, seven days a week. But soccer is a close second, and as I mentioned last week there’s a vast number of markets available, and all kinds of props like which player will score first, or how many yellow cards will be shown. Next in turnover are greyhound racing and golf, both big money earners for UK books. North American sports don’t figure prominently, appearing as a tiny blip in most bookies overall operations. Football is the most popular and it rivals rugby in turnover levels. This is largely due to excellent TV coverage, with three or four live games per week airing in the evening (after soccer is over). But Bishop says bettors are less keen on the other sports, "Basketball, hockey and baseball combined would only account for about 10% of what we take on golf, and less than 0.1% on soccer." Bookies also find these sports less profitable because there are usually only two options to choose from (home win/away win or over/under), unlike horse racing, soccer and golf, which have many more.

But Bishop expects North American sports to become more popular in the future as TV coverage is rapidly increasing. A new satellite channel called NASN (North American Sports Network) just launched a few months ago and is proving extremely popular. When asked how he thinks UK books will treat American sports five years from now, Bishop thinks they’ll be a good source of extra revenue during the late night quiet periods. But the potential for growth is limited, largely because of time zone differences. Since most North American sports start at 7pm or later, Brits have to stay up well past midnight to watch them live. And those are just east coast games with a five-hour time difference. It’s hard to imagine large numbers of people staying awake for a west coast game that starts at 3am. With the exception of afternoon football, most North American sports will continue to be watched mainly by insomniacs.

For bettors in North America, however, UK sports books can offer several benefits. Most spreads are priced to a standard -110 and there is some real value available if you shop your lines. Because they take less action on football and basketball, UK books are also much slower in adjusting their numbers. Savvy bettors can take advantage. Several offer accounts in US and Canadian dollars. And for those who like to bet on golf and soccer, you’ll find the odds are really competitive.

Last week: Disappointing results for us with 1 win and 2 losses. Atletico and Lecce could only manage draws. We lost 200 units.

This week’s picks:

Everton vs. Portsmouth: 2004-03-13
Everton have won more than 76% of their points at home, while Portsmouth is the second worst road team in the Premiership with a 0-4-9 record. They’ve scored only six goals on the road (fewer than any other team), and allowed 25. Everton play a lot better at home than their results indicate, with several unlucky results this season. They are just a couple of points above the relegation zone, and will want to put this one away resolutely. Plus Everton are 6-0 in their past six league home games against Portsmouth. Play on Everton

Blackburn vs. Arsenal: 2004-03-13
The ways they have been playing recently, Arsenal are arguably the best team in Europe at the moment, and well worth backing on the road. Blackburn has allowed more goals at home than any other team (24), while Arsenal has scored more than anyone on the road (27). They thrashed Portsmouth, who plays well at home, by a score of 5-1 in FA Cup action last weekend, and they beat Celta 2-0 in a midweek Champions League match. They’re capable of doing the same against Blackburn. The only worry is Arsenal might settle for the draw, because that’s all they need to preserve their undefeated record this year. But they should have more than enough scoring chances against a Swiss cheese Blackburn defense tout this one away. Play on Arsenal

Real Madrid vs. Zaragoza: 2004-03-13
Madrid has the best home record in the league (10-1-1). They score way more at home than on the road, averaging over 2.5 goals per game - more than any other team. Zaragoza has the second worst road defense and that won’t change when they travel to Madrid. In the past three games in this series, Madrid won 3-1, 3-0 and 3-0. Play on Real Madrid

Other Articles About Soccer Betting:

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» World Cup Qualifiers 2006: European Zone
» Carling Cup Prediction: Second Round Preview
» Italian Soccer Prediction: Serie A Preview 2004/2005
» French Soccer Prediction: Singing Les Bleus
» Spanish Soccer Prediction: Primera Liga Preview 2004
» German Soccer Prediction: Bundesliga Preview 2004
» English Premier League Prediction 2004/2005
» Olympics Soccer: Redemption Time
» Copa America Prediction: Samba or Last Tango in Peru?
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» Betting Euro 2004: The Final Four
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» Euro 2004 Tips: Props - Part 1
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» International Friendlies: How to Cash In
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» Uefa Champions League Betting Tips: The Final Four
» Man Utd v Arsenal Prediction: Clash of the Titans
» Premiership Predictions: EPL Roundup
» UK Bookmakers: Where the Action Is
» Legal Betting: A Gambler's Paradise
» Cup Competitions: Where the Money is
» Profit from Home Field Advantage

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