Bookmakers Bask in the Wealth of Euro 2000 Action

29 June 2000
Bookmakers went into Euro 2000 with high expectations. Before the first player entered the field, bookmakers were predicting a £2 billion betting bonanza, with half of the betting coming from the Asian market. So, it comes as no surprise that betting is booming midway through the tournament. There was plenty of jockeying among bookmakers to attract a record number of new players too.

Gibraltar-based bookmaker Victor Chandler went into Euro 2000 hedging bets. The company commissioned the "Barmy Army 2000" poll, which surveyed nearly a thousand punters a few weeks before the tourney's start. The poll sought information, such as "If you were to place a bet on the Euro 2000, which factors would influence your decision?" The two most popular responses, at 29 percent, were "loyalties to the national team" and "choosing the most intelligent bet." Thankfully, only five percent of respondents bet on a team because of the players' good looks. (No word on whether odds makers were including the players looks when determining odds for matches.)

A number of bookmakers took to new avenues for the tournament, such as signing promotional alliances with players or new ways of offering their betting services. For example, Sportingbet took to iDTV in England just in time for Euro 2000 betting. Plus, the company signed on soccer legend George Best to attract more bettors. Two operators launched WAP betting, so that punters could wager while on the go. Both Eurobet (based in Gibraltar) and IQ Corporation (licensed in Tasmania, but offering European betting services) began accepting mobile bets at the end of May.

William Hill has seen a gluttony of betting. Thanks to the Internet, the bookmaker expects $100 million to be bet on the tournament's outcome, with a third of the wagers coming outside the U.K. "From Aruba to Zimbabwe; from Slovenia to Turkey; the USA to China, we have seen bets pouring in from all over the world for Euro 2000," said spokesman Graham Sharpe.

At one point, the company had taken a million-pound plus liability on England to win, and had already paid out hundreds of thousands to punters who backed England over Germany. One client received a pay-out of £10,000 sterling. In mid-June, Sharpe told Reuters, "I wouldn't be surprised if bets up to one million pounds were riding on Euro 2000."

Business for fledgling Internet betting operator Betinternet of the Isle of Man has been hopping too. "Betting has been extremely busy at present with plenty of five figure wagers on all matches to date, mainly coming from the Far East market--the average bet is £50,000 (about $75,000)," said spokesman Mark McGuiness. "Very popular bets at the moment are the "in-running" which gives the punter the ability to place bets and change his mind through the game."

Betinternet's punters favor a wide range of specialty bets, including "time of first goal; number of red/yellow cards/amount of corners taken" and "top scorers, first corner, total corners, which half will have the most goals scored."

As Euro 2000 shapes up to be the richest betting event in history, many sportsbook operators are trying to take advantage of the overall increased interest in betting as an opportunity to attract new customers. "Bookmakers are giving free bets galore to attract new business, so if you are wise enough you can rack up a number of free bets with different companies," McGowan pointed out. Betinternet, for example, is offering a £40 free bet for new accounts.

Bookmakers might be breathless from all the betting activity, but they still a few more days before the tournament ends. Until then, pass around the caffeine so everyone can stay on top of the odds. This is no time to fall asleep on the job, or you could lose a lot of money!