An insight into the types of people who bet on sport? It wasn’t entirely positive, and I wasn’t sure that the people of South Africa were entirely the best people to help me understand.
I went back to South Africa on my next trip, and I managed to get interviews with the owners of a few of the sports books in Johannesburg. I was impressed with the owners, with some of the questions they asked, and the level of honesty about the sort of gambling which was going on around them.
Of course, this made some things much easier to understand. I can now see the role that the bookmakers play in producing odds, the specific purposes they use to do this, and the consequences for people gambling who do it.
But it didn’t answer all my questions. How many bookies are there? How many are there in South Africa? How does a bookie make money? What sort of pressure does bookies have to put on punters? What happens to bookies who misbehave?
Two years ago, I finally managed to get all of this in a book – ‘Prediction: The Secret World of Sportsbookmakers’, published in October 2016.
It’s an incredibly important book, not least because it tells the stories of some of the South Africans working in the industry. It is also a book which takes in the challenges that sports books face in different countries. And it is one which, sadly, has attracted criticism.
But it is also a book that has never met a narrative it couldn’t tell. I sat down to write ‘Prediction’ having been to dozens of sports bookmaking conferences over the years, and I tried to tackle them all, but it was that of a betting expert who had been to 10 different conferences and had a great story to tell about the different countries, the different philosophies, and the different cultures, of betting bookmakers.
Writing this book has given me some remarkable insights into the industry and the people working in it.
One of the reasons I wrote the book is because I was convinced that there were parts of the industry which I knew nothing about.
I want people to read it and learn from it. It is full of insight and inspiration, and it reminds you of some of the most incredible stories of the human spirit I’ve ever heard.
‘Prediction’ is now published, but it is not finished. I am now working on a sequel, which will take a global approach.
If you want to read the foreword to ‘Prediction’, you can download a PDF of it for free here.
You can also download my preface to the book here, which gives some of the background to the book.
I look forward to seeing the reaction to ‘Prediction’ from the sports bookmakers of the world. If you want to read my first book, ‘The Almighty Missory’, you can buy it here.
If you want to order a signed copy of ‘Prediction’, the price is £21.50 including VAT, and it is available direct from the publisher here.
If you want to find out more about Simon’s other books, you can follow him on Twitter here, or read all the previous blog posts here.
If you want to read ‘Prediction’ in full, it is available for £8.99 from here.