An insight into the types of people who bet on sport, can be seen in a survey carried out by Betfair. The financial trading company collected evidence from its punters, including the amount they wagered, the number of sports they bet on and the team they support. The Betfair Survey found that the average bet per punter is £5.70. This is lower than the average footballbetting prize payout of £9.70, although the average amount wagered on Football is significantly higher at £19.70. This means a higher potential for return from betting on football as most punters can afford to put more money on the game than they do on other sports.
But while many football fans are willing to put their money on their team, there are still high numbers of punters who don’t show the same commitment to their club. Only 21% of football fans reported a single sport they bet on, and the vast majority of these were soccer games.
Where football is concerned, punters are most likely to bet on a particular team rather than a specific team in a game. 40% of the respondents reported betting on their team more than once a week. In contrast, 30% bet on the opponent. In terms of teams, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton were the most commonly bet on teams.
There was a high level of variance across teams and leagues in the amounts of bets placed. Betfair reported that the least amount wagered was on Leicester in the 2015/16 Premier League season at £37. When it comes to individual players, only 17% of football fans reported placing a bet on an opposition player in a game they were playing in. In contrast, almost a third reported placing a bet on a player they are playing against.
Despite the level of commitment from football fans, there is still an underlying doubt around betting. Over one third of respondents reported never having placed a bet. There is also a distrust of bookmakers and the difficulty of finding a reliable source of information about a particular game, as many punters rely on tipsters and social media rumours to form a betting strategy.
Will football win?
With data like this, what can be learnt from the sport that brings in so much money? The Betfair survey also found that 76% of football fans have a favourite football team and 38% have a football fantasy team. Despite this, the majority of football fans admit to having a ‘casual’ approach to the game.
This comes at a cost. Although footballers make millions in salary and sponsorship deals, most football fans admit to paying the following:
Equipment (food, drink and transport costs).
Funeral costs (when their favourite player is injured or dies).
Gifts for wedding rings.
The Guardian conducted an in-depth investigation into fantasy football – the practice of setting up a team of real-life footballers and trading them with other fantasy football fans. It found that two thirds of the top players were able to turn a quick profit, mainly thanks to the players’ contracts, which allow them to be sold for more than the minimum wage.