Some of the biggest and most popular online sportsbooks in the UK have revealed their greatest fear: England beating Spain in the World Cup Finals. Paddy Power is particularly afraid of this possibility, calling it a worst-case outcome. Ultimately, the fear stems from the fact that UK punters will probably bet on England to win, and these sportsbooks will lose a whole lot of money if it actually happens.
Spain are the favorites, and if they lose to England, “we’re all basically stuffed” says a Paddy Power spokesman. “We’d have lost money every step of the way.” Paddy Power expects UK punters to wager on England to win even if the outcome does not look good – it’s a simple question of patriotism and support for the local team.
William Hill has estimated that bettors in the UK will wager 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) on the tournament. For groups like William Hill that offer internet betting in the UK, the best situation for them would be for England to stay in until the end, but not to come out victors. Richard Andrew, spokesperson for Ladbrokes, says that another good outcome for online sportsbooks is a draw match, since few punters wager on this outcome.
Ian McHale, a senior lecturer in statistics at University of Salford, says that “France to win” is the best value for punters. This outcome is slightly underrated in the odds, but the outcome is more likely than England to win. England, he says, is a bad value bet because online sportsbooks need to cover themselves in case of a loss.
Whatever the outcome, money will be won and money will be lost. It is estimated that half of all World Cup bets placed this year will be made online, so the industry is certainly growing. If online sportsbooks take a hit from an England Victory, they will make it up elsewhere – that is the nature of gambling.