Turnover Off the Charts for Bookmakers
Bookmakers, both land-based and Internet-based, are finding enormous success from the World Cup.
Through its Web site on Tuesday, William Hill accepted a £30,000 bet on England to beat Brazil in its quarterfinal match on Friday. Officials said their global turnover of £250 million on the tournament is on course to be reached.
Blue Square, another leading supplier of bets through the Internet and interactive TV, is having similar success. The company has seen roughly £6 million a day in turnover through the first two rounds of the tournament. With England still being in the tournament, officials are hopeful that interest in betting will continue to rise and expect to reach the £10 million per day mark quite comfortably.
At the end of the second round of matches, BETDAQ, the international betting exchange with locations in Dublin and London, revealed that the total amount bettors staked with it on the World Cup exceeds $60 Million.
The second-round match between South Korea and Italy featured two six-figure wagers and no less than 27 bets of greater than £20,000.
According to BETDAQ's Rob Hartnett, the two most notable bets placed so far were the $100,000 that won $85,000 with Quinton Fortune's late penalty for South Africa against Paraguay, and a bet of £100,000 at even money on South Korea to avoid defeat in normal time against Italy.
Almost exactly two years to the day after its launch, Betfair.com passed £1million in matched turnover on a single football match during the England-Argentina game. It finished with a matched figure of £1.1 million.
In the first week of the World Cup, Betfair matched more than £18 million on football, taking its total turnover for the seven days to more than £42 million.
Betfair is one of the leading P2P sites on the Internet.
Upsets Mean Big Money for Bookmakers
Argentina's powerhouse soccer team, one of the pre-tournament favorites to win the World Cup, was eliminated Wednesday. That followed the fall of defending champion France on Tuesday. Next to go could be three-time winner Italy, if Mexico has its way in its match up Thursday.
When favorites fail, bookies gain.
The United Kingdom gambling industry figures it will handle more than £200 million (US $294 million) in wagers during the month-long tournament--with most of the money riding on big-name teams that have flopped, leaving bookies with a big chunk of the stakes.
"We're raking it in; it's unbelievable," said John Seigal, a bookie in Southend-on-Sea, England, for Coral Eurobet, one of the biggest bookmakers in the United Kingdom.
Bookmakers manipulate the odds with the aim of attracting enough bettors--or punters, as they are called in the United Kingdom--on each side to make a profit of roughly 5 percent no matter whether the favorite or the underdog wins, or it's a draw. But sometimes even with extreme odds, the bettors keep flocking to the favorite.
That is what happened in the first round, for example, when the United States, a perennial soccer doormat, played powerhouse Portugal. Despite being offered odds of 7-1 by London bookmakers, few were foolhardy enough to bet on the Americans.
FIFA Site Breaks Internet Record
FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, reported it allocated $30,000 and was waiving rights fees in order to provide delayed telecasts of World Cup matches inside Kabul National Stadium in Afghanistan.
As of June 10, the official Web site, fifaworldcup.com, produced by marketing partner Yahoo!, had accumulated 463 million page views, making it the most highly trafficked sports event site in history.
The previous record of 350 million page views was held by the combined traffic of Microsoft's nbcolympics.com and olympics.com.
William Hill Banks on Upsets, England's Run
A host of upsets--defending champion France as well as Argentina and Portugal all out after the first round--and the deep run by England into the quarterfinals have William Hill and other U.K. bookmakers raking in millions.
William Hill rated Brazil, Spain and England Monday as the top three favorites to win the World Cup.
Brazil was listed at 2-1, followed by Spain at 7-2 and England 4-1.
Other odds given by William Hill were Italy 9-2, Germany 6-1, Senegal 20-1, Japan 28-1, the United States 33-1, Turkey 50-1 and South Korea 66-1.
The United States plays Germany in another quarterfinal, while Spain plays South Korea, and Senegal squares off against Turkey.
Soccer Fever Hits New Zealand
The soccer World Cup is driving Kiwis into a gambling frenzy. TAB records were smashed last week as punters flocked to place small and large sums on soccer teams playing at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
Asian New Zealanders were betting in large numbers to support the host nations.
TAB spokesman Joe Locke said that $7.4 million had already been placed on games at the World Cup, eclipsing the $5 million spent on the last tournament in France.
The TAB had a record $7.1 million placed on sports bets last week because of a combination of soccer, rugby, cricket, tennis and boxing events. This more than doubled the previous record of $3.3 million.
Locke said Internet betting has also reached record levels, with $2.3 million in bets made, beating the $1.4 million spent during a week.
US Run Boosts Interest in World Cup
MLSNet.com is holding on to its visitors better than ever this month, thanks to the U.S. team's success in the World Cup.
In the first 10 days of June, MLS-Net.com, the official site of Major League Soccer, recorded more than 1.5 million page views. That puts it on pace to exceed 4 million page views, a mark broken only twice (during July and October in 2000) during the site's six-year history, despite luring only 62,000 unique visitors, which is not on pace to break the monthly record of 273,000.
Most visitors are logging on immediately before and after World Cup matches. After the United States upset Portugal on June 5, MLSNet.com nabbed 75 percent more page views than usual that morning, recording about 262,000.
A record number of people in the United States watched their country's euphoric World Cup victory over Mexico in this week's second-round match. Despite the time delay, about 1.5 million people are believed to have watched the match live with a further two million watching delayed highlights. Further records are also expected to be broken when the United States faces Germany in a quarterfinal showdown on Friday.
Although the ratings surpass the viewing figures of the 1994 World Cup in the United States, it is still significantly smaller than the number of viewers tuning it to watch other sports--the recently completed NBA Finals averaged 10.8 million households over four games.
And compared with other countries, World Cup fever in the United States is far from gripping the nation. In the United Kingdom, for example, up to 30 million people, or over half the population, are believed to have watched England's defeat of Denmark on Saturday.
Police Make Bust in Malaysia
Police stormed an Internet cafe near Kuala Lumpur and arrested 10 people, including the owner, for collecting illegal bets on the World Cup, the national news agency reported Friday.
Police Deputy Chief Rusni Hashim said police believed illegal bets at the cafe amounted to about 300,000 ringgit (US $78,950), Bernama reported.
The operators had taken bets amounting to up to 25,000 ringgit (US $6,600) per day since the World Cup began.
During Thursday's raid, police found two notebooks containing details of the betting and seized a television set, a fax machine, schedules for World Cup matches and stationery, Runsi said.
Police officers were not immediately available to verify the Bernama report.
Cousins Charged in Murder Over Bet
Two cousins were charged with murder in the stabbing death of a 19-year-old man after an argument about a World Cup soccer wager.
Eduardo Velasquez was stabbed in the upper chest at his home Saturday night, Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts said. Velasquez died shortly after family members brought him to the Lexington County Medical Center.
Metts said 28-year-old Jamie Cruz Palma and 24-year-old Jerado Palma, both of West Columbia, were arrested near the scene and charged with murder. They are being held at the Lexington County Detention Center.
Soccer Fan Killed by Train
A 25-year-old man was so engrossed in the U.S.-Mexico World Cup match being shown on television Monday that he slipped off the platform and was killed by a speeding train in eastern India.
Aveek Tarafdar was standing near the edge of the platform in a Calcutta station, his eyes locked on an overhead television set, when he lost his balance and fell on the railroad tracks, police said.
He tried to climb back, but was hit by the train, police said.
Witnesses said Tarafdar inadvertently stepped back, teetered on the edge and fell.
Betting Ban Doesn't Keep Thais From Laying Down Action
Except for the national lottery and betting on certain sports such as Thai boxing and horse racing, gambling is banned in Thailand. But the World Cup has generated so much excitement that betting on football has become a national obsession.
According to the Thai Farmers Bank Research Centre, Thais are expected to wager 30 billion baht (about $706 million) on World Cup matches, with Bangkokians accounting for 20 percent of it.
Since the football tournament began, police have arrested nearly 700 gamblers around the country and seized 1.5 million baht (about $36,000) in cash from the suspects. The sum is so small that people are wondering whether the police are really serious about cracking down on football gambling.
Several Internet betting companies have posted advertisements on their Web sites inviting high-stakes punters from Thailand and other Asian countries to take part in World Cup bets, according to Thai news sources.
Paddy Power Refunding Some Stakes
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has moved to comfort the nation's dispirited populous of football fans by refunding bets to those who gambled that the Republic of Ireland would win the World Cup. The P.R. stunt will see Paddy Power hand back more than £128,000 ($189,427) following Ireland's dramatic defeat to Spain on Sunday in a penalty shoot-out.
A spokesman for the group was quoted in the local presses as stating: "It's good to give something back to the punters and it means there's more money in the pockets for the next game."
Paddy Power will pay out on single bets made before the kick-off of up to £250 ($369.98) per person. Not to be outdone, U.K. bookmaker William Hill has made a similar ruling should England lose its quarterfinal tie against Brazil on Friday.
Police Sting Hits Hong Kong
Police in Hong Kong have smashed two illegal football bookmaking centers and arrested seven people in a crackdown during the World Cup, officials said last week. A police statement said betting slips worth amounts of up to $67,000 were seized and betting records showed an estimated turnover of almost $7.5 million.
A vigorous campaign against rampant illegal football bookmaking was launched by police to coincide with the World Cup. Betting on football is illegal in Hong Kong, which permits wagers only on horse racing and a numbers game lottery.
Those convicted of illegal bookmaking face a maximum jail term of seven years and a fine of $680,000.
A new gambling law implemented last month states that anyone in Hong Kong caught placing a bet with an overseas bookmaker risks a fine and three months in jail.