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Complex bets are ‘manipulating’ gamblers, university study finds

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Football fans are gambling under false pretenses as more than half of televised bets prove less than fair, a university study has revealed.

Behavioural scientist Dr Philip Newall found 60% of televised gambles surrounded complex and highly specific bets, indicating the scoring of a specific player or teams’ winning scores – with the odds of winning becoming significantly less.

However, the study found that, as the complexity of the gamble increased, fans became optimistic of their chances.

The research, published in Addiction Research and Theory, reviewed live-odds gambling adverts throughout the two months of televised Premiere League matches.

Dr Newall, of Stirling Management School, said: “Live-odds TV gambling adverts that promote betting on specific, complex gambles during sporting events are becoming increasingly prominent in the UK.

“These types of bets are attractive to gamblers due to the high potential win: however, due to the vast number of potential outcomes, they are very difficult to rationally quantify and forecast and, as a result, result in significant average losses.”

More than £500 million has been spent on advertising since 2012, with annual public revenue estimated at more than £13 billion.

Dr Newall added: “It seems football fans are rarely able to rationalise the likelihood of a win for the complex events that now dominate gambling advertising in the UK. Everyone, from die-hard football fans to novice gamblers, struggled to estimate the outcome of live-odd bets and may be underestimating the cost of these gambles.”

Adrian Parkinson from Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “The betting industry has, for some time, been developing these bet types with a particular focus on attracting the young, football supporting demographic.

“They are creating the illusion of an easy big win, based on something the consumer feels knowledgeable about, but the reality that is tied up in these complex bet structures means you’re odds of winning are negligible. It’s manipulation of consumers and it’s time bookmakers came clean on the real value of these bets.”

Findings were funded by the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics and supported by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

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