The Rise Of Novelty Betting
Following Nigel Pearson’s sacking as Leicester City Manager last week, bookies have been quick to remind people of their sharp wit and humour by installing ‘Any Ostrich’ to take the reigns at a price of 500/1. Oddly enough, comparing a Journalist to one of our fightless, feathery friends wasn’t even the strangest moment during his tenure.
Anyway, the point is that bookmakers are only limited by their imaginations and public demand when it comes to setting prices on various markets. A quick browse through the Oddschecker ‘Novelty Bets’ section quickly throws up an eclectic blend of the world’s most pressing issues.
For example, it’s reassuring to know that Cheryl Cole, is currently 175/1 to marry Prince Harry, although in the true spirit of British royalty, they may opt to keep it in the family with Pippa Middleton a princely (or princessly?) 50/1.
Keeping bang up to date with the ongoing work of Roseta, the comet lander which was successfully placed onto a moving block of rock and ice last year after a four billion mile journey, a number of markets have opened up regarding the existence of alien life. A mouth watering proposition for the sci-fi enthusiast, you can pick up a cool 100/1 on extraterrestrial life to be discovered before 2020 or, for the realists, 1/100 after.
Of course that’s assuming that aliens aren’t living among us already with the most compelling evidence coming from the Big Brother house and Mesut Ozil’s face. Incidentally, this desperately shallow end of the gene pool (Big Brother, not Ozil) is one of the only things on Earth which doesn’t mater more if you’ve got money on it, although prices are available if there’s no bowls, tiddlywinks or live paint drying on elsewhere.
Even among the litany of betting options available, there is always the chance that no one else has managed to dream up the same imaginative punt. If this is the case then all is not lost – bookies employ teams of odds compilers who are usually contactable either by telephone or e-mail and can provide you with prices bespoke to your premonition. Whether you fancy Brooklyn Beckham to play for England or Greece to become the 51st state of America, the great and the good are available if you’re willing to shop around.
The deregulation of television advertising for the gambling industry has allowed bookmakers to position their novelty bets in line with their own branding. Since the changes were first introduced back in 2007, there has been a 600% increase in pro-gambling adverts coming at us through our goggleboxes.
Rather than simply having to provide prices on demand, odds are now being used as a marketing tool to tie in with the overall company branding. While companies like Betfred and Ladbrokes have pushed harder in recent times to connect with younger punters, no one has done it better than Paddy Power.
From offering odds on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial with the strap line, ‘Money Back if He Walks’, through to a huge billboard advertising the prices of Ireland’s gay marriage vote with two men in balaclavas kissing, Paddy Power seemingly knows no bounds when it comes to the more controversial marketing tactics.
While all of this is great for publicity, it’s pretty clear to see that it would take a minor miracle to make steady profit from novelty betting, but that isn’t why it’s there. It gives bookmakers the chance to show of their personalities and connect with their punters who may well fancy an ostrich to make the seamless transition into Premier League management. With Claudio Ranieri due to be unveiled as Leicester City manager later this week, it will be interesting to see who pays out the 500/1 as a winner.