Football almost came back home – and destroyed the English bookmakers

If there are football fans that are hopelessly optimistic, then it’s the English. However, it is hard to disregard decades of bad World Cup performances that had the fans wondering whether 1966 was simply a stroke of luck. The kind of luck you get when you get a casino bonus that’s really worth your while. Nevertheless, they had a lot to be happy about this year and the ones that know it best are the bookmakers. In contrast to the fans exhilaration, England’s surprising winning streak at the 2018 World Cup almost cost the bookmakers a nifty sum.

What’s this all about

If you were living under a rock for the past month or so, here’s a short recap – England made their way to the semifinals after making it through the group behind Belgium, and then defeating Columbia and Sweden, only to be halted by Croatia in the semifinals. After that, the motivation was insufficient in the consolation third-place match with Belgium.

These results caused a rise in soccer wagers in England – if around 1 billion GBP was wagered during the last World Cup in 2014, this year witnessed around 2.5 billion GBP in bets with two-thirds of the pre-semi-final wagers being on England (talk about patriotism). However, for every happy punter, there is an unhappy bookie and this proved to be true this year as well.

Croatia is the favourite team of English bookmakers

Odds of England winning the World Cup were around 25-1 before the tournament, with around 19% of all the bets being in favour of the Albion bringing football back home. The win against Croatia would have caused an unprecedented payout of 100 to 200 million GBP, so it’s no wonder Mandzukic’s late overtime score meant the biggest betting operators could breathe a sigh of relief. And there’s no telling how much winning the championship would additionally drain the already empty bookie pockets.

However, even if the English went through to the finals, the bookies would have had a chance of coming up on top (proving that the house always wins). If the Lions lost the game, they would have probably maximized their profit and covered the semi-final losses. Even better, if the English national team had drawn the game and lost in the extra time, they would have earned even more, since draws are the most unpopular result and the least percentage of bets comes from draws. With the patriotic excitement reaching its climax and William Hill recording 8000 wagers per minute before the beginning of the semi-finals, it would be hard to imagine who would bet on England drawing, let alone losing.

Nevertheless, the bookmakers settled for a regular-time draw and an extra-time defeat in the semi-finals and avoided gambling on the finals (oh, the irony). This can be seen in the prices of the stocks of the biggest English bookmakers. For example, William Hill’s and GVC Holding’s stocks saw a rise of 1.9% the day after England’s knockout. So football might not be coming home this year, but the money is definitely coming to the bookies.