The lowest margin sports for bookmakers up until the 90’s were tennis and boxing, because they held their form best. They have now gone different ways. How does this affect the sports bettor?
Boxing is now all pay-for-view, primarily in the States. They don’t put rubbish fighters on P2V; and no boxer is going to throw a fight for a back hander when he is being paid £5m for the fight anyway. OK upsets happen, but anyone who watched the weigh-ins would have piled into Tyson Fury against Klitschko. Consequently boxing is not particularly sponsored by bookmakers, it is just not a big earner for them.
Tennis however is a now a massive betting sport. The bookmakers don’t reveal their turnover or profitability on tennis betting, so facts are sparse but revealing. As long ago as 2007 Betfair suspended betting in the second round of an obscure Polish tennis open match because $7m was bet on it, 10 times what they would normally expect. A Coral source recently claimed that tennis betting is now second only to football, particularly in-play and on-line. Bookies love it, with William Hill paying Au$5m to become the first bookmaker in the world to sponsor a Grand Slam Tournament, The Australian Open, subsequently reporting an 80% betting surge on the first day, and a 300% increase in line in play betting. Even Andy Murray described this sponsorship as a “bit strange.”
The fundamental problem for the bettor, with tennis (like darts and snooker) is that it is an individual skill sport. This means that if the ball ends 1mm outside the line, or 1mm inside the line is such a close call and the shot executed with such speed that it is impossible to call the player a cheat. Being an individual sport cheating doesn’t require the collusion that it would in say a football match. Motivation to take a gambling back-hander is also immense in tennis. It doesn’t affect a player’s career if he loses one of 20 matches in a season. To participate in those matches, particularly at the up-and-coming stage, he has to travel to tournaments all around the world. If he can’t do that his career won’t go anywhere, and one bent match can pay for a year’s travel and accommodation. It has long been reported that up to 10% of minor tennis matches could involve gambling fixes.
The tennis authorities claim to have had 18 successful disciplinary cases since 2010. These have mostly been in the lower reaches of the game, with the most high profile case being the lifetime ban for the then world No55 Daniel Kollerer in 2011. What has changed everything however was last week’s revelations that 16 top 50 players have alleged to been involved in fixing over the last 10 year including at Wimbledon. In particular these allegations have revealed that players are prepared to throw matches, and not just sets.
Money corrupts; tennis needs money; tennis gets in bed with the bookies; government want the tax revenues; and betting advertising and revenues increase. When Chinese Walls break down financial markets collapse. Tennis may cease ultimately to be a proper sport and society may end up paying the costs of uncontrolled gambling associated with it. Sad this may be, but within all the publicity no one mentions the effect on the sports bettor.
The sport bettor bets on judgement. To make a profit he already has to overcome the bookmakers “over-round.” If he is also betting in a sport where let’s say one in 20 results is subject to fixing, then he has an additional 5% margin to overcome. The bookmakers don’t finance the fixes, the bettors do. Bookmakers just suspend or void betting if they don’t like the betting pattern on a match. Also there is no point fixing the favourite to win a match, it has to be fixed to go against the form (which is where the bettor is likely to be.) Further with only two win outcomes betting odds on tennis matches aren’t going to be generous. Bettors are likely to want a lot of small odds bets to come in, possibly some involving high stakes. All of this is very dangerous if you throw in “fixes.”
So what can we learn about successful sports betting on tennis matches:
*Restrict higher stakes bets to matches involving the top 10 players, not the top 50
*Don’t just study the player’s form, study who he or she has lost to in the last 12 months, and what the odds were on that defeat. Be wary of any incidences of close defeats by a much lower ranking player who won at a good price.
It is now obvious that you can’t expect to win on tennis betting over the longer term without an in-depth knowledge of the players’ form and betting history. These facts are all readily available over the internet, but if you haven’t got the time to conduct this research, then consider buying tips from a professional tennis betting tipster who has.