Industry hammered by Leicester’s shock triumph

Industry hammered by Leicester’s shock triumph

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Bookies lost £20m on this year's Premier League outright market

Betway said it suffered its biggest ever individual market loss as Leicester City’s shock victory in the race for the English Premier League title cost bookmakers an estimated £20m (€25.2m/$29.0m).

Leicester were 5,000-1 outsiders with many betting operators for the top-tier club competition at the start of the 2015-16 season, but their surprising triumph was confirmed on Monday as second-placed Tottenham Hotspur failed to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Foxes have won the English top-flight title for the first time in their 132-year history, with the triumph coming just 12 months after they were very nearly relegated.

Betway actually offered just 2,500-1 on Leicester back in August, but said that a series of 1,000-1 bets at the end of October did the damage. The operator added that it “paid a painful price” when it chose to still offer odds as long as 10-1 when Leicester, unbeaten in 10 games, sat two points clear at Christmas.

Betway's Alan Alger said: "Leicester winning the Premier League is the most remarkable story in the history of the competition, if not football as a whole. This most unlikely triumph will not be forgotten by both fans and bookmakers. For fans it's jaw-dropping elation, while for us bookies it's enormously expensive.”

Ladbrokes, which was still offering odds on Leicester of 33/1 at the end of December, lost an estimated £3m on the market, while Coral estimated it was £2m down.

Simon Clare of Coral told the BBC website: "We've never lost money like this - it's the biggest hit we've ever taken. In a way it's a beautiful wake up call. It's an amazing moment.

"The bookies were just ignoring their form. The punters started to believe but not the bookies."

TotallyGaming.com says: “The winning stakes of 50p or a couple of pounds suggest that even those lucky punters that backed Leicester at the start of the season did not truly believe their bets had a chance of being victorious. Betway and others seem to be suggesting that their real mistake was failing to react to Leicester’s mid-season form, and it may be they will offer lower odds in the unlikely event of a similar scenario presenting itself in the future.”

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