This November, the legendary FIFA World Cup football tournament is heading to Qatar and thousands of footie fans will be there, along with billions more following the tournament on TV. The World Cup is not just eagerly awaited by fans, it’s also a significant payday for bookmakers and betting sites and, in this article, we’ll take a look at this famous tournament and the impact that it has on the gambling industry.
From class act to controversy
In 1930, Uruguay was both the host and the winner of the first ever FIFA World Cup football championship which pitted 13 teams from around the world together. Since that time, the tournament, which takes place every four years, is one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the global sporting calendar.
In the 92 years since the inaugural competition, The World Cup has only ever been canceled twice – in 1942 and in 1946 due to World War II. During the course of almost 100 years, the tournament has had a number of winners – and its fair share of scandals. In 1982, the tournament was thrown into disrepute when Germany and Austria were accused of conspiring against Algeria to ensure that Germany remained in the tournament.
In 1986, the competition was again thrown into turmoil when the referee failed to notice that Diego Maradona used his hand rather than his head to score a goal which would become known as ‘The hand of God’. To add insult to injury, he then scored another goal three minutes later to seal the win against England.
Wagering on The World Cup
As the sporting world gears up for the next tournament in Qatar in November, bookmakers will no doubt be rubbing their hands with glee. As well as watching the matches, fans across the globe enjoy nothing better than having a flutter while they’re at it.
During the 2018 World Cup in Croatia, around £136 billion was spent on bets by football fans around the world and, according to FIFA, this equated to £2.1 billion per match, rising to about £7.2 billion for the final between France and Croatia, which would ultimately be won by France with a score of 4-2. Despite this win, Croatia had the highest betting average throughout the tournament and, a FIFA spokesperson said, ‘Croatia was considered a dark horse contender heading into the World Cup with odds of 30-1 or higher to win the tournament, while France was listed among the favorites alongside Brazil, Germany and Spain’.
Scoring big for bookies
Popular betting site, Paddy Power Betfair, reported a 13% increase in profits in the second quarter of 2018, an increase which was very much attributed to the World Cup. Similarly, betting companies across the UK reported that revenue during the tournament had doubled from the previous event in 2014.
While this is all no doubt good news for bookies, or online casino accepting sport bets, there are those who felt that betting and gambling advertising during the 2018 World Cup was beyond excessive. According to The Guardian, ITV showed almost 90 minutes of betting adverts during the tournament – around 17% of all commercials shown. Then deputy leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, said at the time, ‘One of the only downsides to the brilliant World Cup has been the bombardment of gambling advertising on TV and social media that thousands of children will have been exposed to’.
Tom Watson is not the only person to express concern over the glamorization of betting and gambling; particularly that which is targeted at children and young people. In recent times, countries across the globe have been working to tackle problem gambling. Figures published in 2022 show that 0.5% of the UK’s adult population are considered to be problem gamblers or gambling addicts – the study shows that 15% of these regularly gamble in the workplace as well as during their own time.
In 2019, the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) began to take a fresh look at advertising for gambling companies and products which target those under the age of 18. This has resulted in new advertising guidelines and legislation which includes a ban on:
- Animated or cartoon content which may appeal to children
- Cultural content which targets youth
- References to video games
- Youth related content
- Content featuring popular celebrities, including pop stars, actors and sports stars
These new advertising standards prohibit using the image of any celebrities, including high profile footballers and popular music artists as well as influencers and YouTube stars. The rule also applies to former players and managers whose opinion may be viewed as influential.
Although this is an important move which will hopefully prevent young people from becoming sucked into problem gambling, it may not be a popular move with bookies and betting sites. The new rulings are set to come into place on the first of October 2022 in the UK – one month ahead of the 2022 World Cup. This means that betting companies will now be restricted on the kind of advertising which can be shown on television and social media during the actual tournament. Because of this, we will almost certainly see some early promotions by betting companies as they attempt to build as much revenue as possible ahead of the new advertising standards rules in October.
Open for business
Although it may only be the middle of August, football enthusiasts have already been placing their bets on this year’s World Cup and Bet365 are currently offering odds of 9-2 for Brazil to win, followed by England at 6-1.
As well as having to navigate new advertising standards, this year’s World Cup is also facing a considerable amount of controversy outside of the gambling world as the run up has been dogged by allegations of human rights abuse as well as protests against holding the event in Qatar due to the fact that homosexuality is prohibited in the region. All of this means that the organizers of this year’s tournament are facing more pressure than ever before, despite the fact that the first match is still two months away.
From ticket sales to sales of merchandise to wagers, the World Cup is a major money spinner – not least for the country which is hosting it which enjoys a huge amount of money in tourism. While this year’s event will certainly look a little different in terms of advertising, the love of the sport and of the World Cup is such that fans will remain loyal, no matter what.
For 2022, the hope is that the event in Qatar will be a peaceful one to be enjoyed by all – and that bookmakers and betting sites will still enjoy some solid profits without relying on advertising which has the potential to harm children and young people.
The 2022 World Cup begins on Sunday November the 30th with Group A at Al Bayt Stadium where Qatar will take on Ecuador. Matches will be shown on a number of television channels including BBC and ITV in the United Kingdom.