Favourable Football Results for UK Bookmakers
William Hill reported a “strong first quarter” in its Interim management statement covering the 13-week period to 29 March 2011.
The amounts wagered over the counter (OTC) in its 2,300+ betting shops rose 4% in the period. The gross win margin for the period was 18.1%, which is above the top end of the range of 17%-18% the company expects from its retail activities.
William Hill Online’ sportsbook recorded a 62% increase in amounts wagered during the 13 weeks and the margin was 7.3% (expected range 7%-8%).
The Cheltenham Festival in March was not a good one for bookmakers, particularly the latter half of the four-day jumping meeting. But football results during the period appear to have offset this.
In pre-match 1×2 betting the draw tends to be the most profitable result on the book for bookmakers.
The number of drawn matches is, therefore, of interest in assessing bookmakers’ performance. At the start of the 2009/2010 English Premier League (EPL) season there were just 4 drawn matches in August and September 2009, a percentage of 6.1%, compared with 16.9% in the same period of the previous season. At the time this caused some poor financial announcements from the bookmakers and some City analysts believed it could point to structural decline in the betting sector.
But this season results have bounced back in the bookmakers’ favour (up until March 2011). In February 2011 31% of EPL matches ended in a draw (2010: 27%) and in March 27% (2010: 21%).

GBGC EPL Draw Table 2011

GBGC EPL Draw Table 2011


Cumulatively over the season to the end of March, 30% of matches have been drawn in the 2010/2011 season. This compares with 25% of matches at the same stage of last season.
GBGC EPL Draws 2011

GBGC EPL Draws 2011


The growth on live betting in the online sphere does lessen the impact of the draw as the most profitable result for bookmakers. Customers are able to bet during the match and the overall margin for live betting tends to be lower than for pre-match betting.
But the graphs above suggest that things have swung back in the bookmakers favour. They never lose for long.