Industry focus: Bake Off serves up reminder of TV market’s dangers

Industry focus: Bake Off serves up reminder of TV market’s dangers

Thursday, August 20, 2015
Ladbrokes suspended betting on outcome of popular show

William Hill has told TotallyGaming.com that it was contacted by punters wishing to place bets on the winner of the Great British Bake Off in the same week that Ladbrokes suspended its market on the outcome of the television show.

The betting operator does not offer long-term markets on pre-recorded shows such as Bake Off and The Apprentice, although it has on occasion offered bets on the final of the shows to pre-existing customers.

Ladbrokes last week suspended betting on Bake Off after a glut of big-money bets were all placed on the same winner through a number of newly-created accounts, and William Hill’s Rupert Adams told TotallyGaming.com that a number of new customers contacted his company asking for a book to be opened so that they could also back the same contestant.

“In a way I say hats off to Ladbrokes for offering the market, because it is interesting and it offers fun to people,” said Adams. “However, this kind of thing is very predictable and we’ve never seen it as a financially viable market.

“Programmes such as Bake Off and the Apprentice are very well known, and to be fair they have always been very good at keeping the winner a secret.

“In the past we have allowed customers to bet on the final, just as a bit of interest for them. However, we would only accept bets from pre-existing customers, and alarm bells ring if people attempt to bet more than the average, which is £8."

It is not just television shows that can cause concern, however, with Hills also being contacted by someone who wished to bet £15,000 on the singer of the theme tune for the next James Bond film.

Sport specials can also arouse suspicion, according to Adams.

“We see it with markets offered on the next manager of a football team,” he said. “You watch them for a period of time and nothing happens. Then, all of a sudden, you see thousands of pounds bet and the odds change dramatically within 10 minutes.”

Paddy Power, which did not take bets on Bake Off but has recently posted markets on EastEnders, also told TotallyGaming.com that its decision was based on bad experiences in the past.

A spokesperson said: “Back in 1995 we famously got it spectacularly wrong by offering 500/1 on Maggie Simpson to have shot Mr Burns. It turned out that it was her and the episode of the Simpsons had been shown in America the week before - d’oh!"

Ladbrokes suspended betting on Bake Off after a flurry of bets were placed on one of the show’s contestants at several shops around the Ipswich area. A spokesman explained that the hopeful’s original odds began at 12-1 before falling to 6-1, 3-1 and finally evens.

However, the Paddy Power spokesperson feels that the amount lost by Ladbrokes and others may have been outweighed by other benefits.

“My hunch would be the other bookies aren’t losing too much sleep after having their fingers burned – they did pretty well in the PR stakes off the back of it,” he said.

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