Get in the Games: Online wagering and London 2012
British Olympic fans have had little to complain about during London 2012, with Team GB sitting third in the medals table since early in the Games, and thrashing all their previous records for golds, silvers and bronze medals alike.
However, those who have been tempted into placing an outlandish bet have been a little less lucky, as some of the suggested bets in an Associated Press report ahead of the Opening Ceremony show.
For instance, William Hill’s 1,000-to-1 odds on a flying saucer settling over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony caused controversy after videos of just such an occurrence were posted online – only for the mysterious lights in the sky to be explained away as a Goodyear blimp stripped of its usual branding to comply with Olympic sponsorship rules.
In contrast, many of the more predictable results have proved to be safe bets for sportsbook fans during the Olympics so far.
Usain Bolt, favourite for the men’s 100m sprint title ahead of the event, did not disappoint his backers, setting an Olympic record time of 9.63s to take the gold, while few Britons will have missed Jessica Ennis’s expression of triumph and relief as she crossed the line to take gold in the heptathlon.
But if you’re not a fan of sportsbook betting, there are plenty of other ways to ride the wave of Olympic-inspired wagering that is gripping the nation at the moment.
The Online Olympics
With sports-themed events taking place at many online bingo sites to tie in with the Games (even if they can’t use the word ‘Olympics’ for trademark reasons…), joining in all of them could feel like a multi-discipline event in itself.
The genius of online bingo is that, the more people who join in, the higher the stakes usually are – and the higher the level of competition.
But most games will still take roughly the same number of calls to reach a full house, so you’re still in with a good chance of beating the rest of the crowd to covering your card, even if you end up sharing the spoils.
Look out for Olympic-like special events at your favourite online bingo sites and casinos – often these will be aimed at attracting new members, so they could be on particularly good terms compared with the regular games that take place at each site.
It remains to be seen whether the Olympics will have a lasting legacy for online betting, bingo and casinos, but the industry is doing well even without any fresh momentum.
Companies and Markets, who specialise in publishing market research about all kinds of different industries, recently reported that online gambling wins in 2011 reached $33.6 billion (£21.5 billion) – a growth rate of 16.8% in each of the previous four years.
Sports betting accounted for nearly half of this, which the Olympics is likely to have boosted still further in 2012, but growth is expected to slow to a still-healthy 7.9% per year between 2011 and 2016.
Even slightly outpacing this forecast could take global online gambling to a value of more than $50 billion in 2016 – and the Olympic legacy will have its own part to play in deciding whether this happens or not.