Could Bet365’s success usher in a golden age of matched betting?

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Is the title a bit over the top? Perhaps. But can you blame me? It is so rare that this blog gets to focus on a genuinely positive story for both sides of the fence and, to be honest, I can’t help but be excited for what the future could bring.

For those (most of you) who do not avidly follow the rollercoaster ride that is Gambling news, you may have missed the recent announcement of the astronomical profits posted by Bet365 recently. The numbers are truly staggering and nothing does them more justice than this quote from the Racing Post on Bet365’s performance:

To put this progress into context [profits rising 33% to £682.2 million], bet365 have added roughly the equivalent of William Hill’s digital business in one year's growth

I’ll give you a second to re-read that. In one year, Bet365 have added an amount equal to an entire companies’ total value in the digital space. ADDED! That is insane, especially when we consider that William Hill is not a simple start-up but a stalwart of the industry. Now, the easy thing to do would be to point and laugh at William Hill (which I admit I give in to later), however what we must first focus on is what has driven this growth.

The answer appears emphatic. Online Sports Betting and In-Play markets. A space in which Matched Betting is heavily embedded. On an even more positive note, Bet365’s Online Sports Betting growth is credited to a focus on their ‘early pay-out mechanic’ (their 2Up and 14Up offers), as well as odds boosts. These are both being heavily utilised by matched bettors to generate profit. So, to see a bookmaker doing so financially well from techniques that one could say, matched bettors abuse, is a massive step forward in crushing the idea that Matched Betting is the enemy of the Gambling industry.

If it is not already apparent, this is brilliant news for matched bettors. For Bet365 it will likely mean better odds boosts and an expansion of their 2up & 14up offers. But most importantly, it will reduce the chance of you being gubbed for using these offers. For the wider industry, they will of course be looking at Bet365 with envious eyes. Hopefully this will result in them combining their collective brain power to realise that providing actual value to their customers may be the way to get them to spend more. Value that we can then capitalise on.

Ok, I’ve held off on being sarcastic about bookies like William Hill for nearly two whole paragraphs…..I think that’s good enough. This news not only, in my opinion, goes a long way to dismantling the idea that matched betting is terrible for bookmaker’s bottom line, but also smashes the bookie tactic of gubbing anyone that uses their offers.

Let’s break this down. Although why we need to is beyond me, because this seems blindingly straightforward. If you (the bookmaker) do not provide value to your customer and stop them from spending (by gubbing them) when they attempt to take advantage of perceived value – you will make less money. Shocking, I know. Now, look, Bet365 are far from perfect and still seem to flip out if anyone gets any value from their Horse Racing offers. But perhaps, just perhaps, this news may make bookmakers take a look at this and think ‘maybe what hurts us more is stopping people giving us money as opposed to those that occasionally win a free bet (which they can then still lose!)’. I am still waiting for someone to come out with the maths that shows matched bettors lose bookmakers money across all their products. To me, this colossal growth from Bet365 is just another nail in the coffin for this argument that we, matched bettors, negatively impact a bookmaker’s bottom line or at least impact it in any way to warrant such a study in the first place.

The gambling industry is an odd beast. However, it should still follow the objective that 99% of industries follow – keep your customers spending. If you limit their ability to do so, you will make less money. Also, if you limit customers in such a way that causes terrible PR (which the bookies routinely do) then the knock-on effect to potential customers will result in you making even less money as a business.

The bookmakers that go under, nearly all follow the same template. Instantaneous gubbings should you take any perceived value from them, and in the same vein provide little to no value for their customers. William Hill may not be going under but they are a fantastic example of how their backwards ideals will help drive them into the ground. Take their flash odds for example. These ‘amazing odds boosts’ often fail to match, let alone improve on, the value the un-boosted odds from other bookmakers. We are no longer in a world where your betting options are restricted to the local high-street and bookmakers could easily control their customer base thanks to an all-round naivety. Bet365 are ahead of most in their understanding of this.

A savvy customer is better than no customer. The runaway success of Bet365’s 2Up & 14Up offers (which are some of the most frequented by matched bettors) should be proof of this. So, we matched bettors must wait and see if the gambling industry collectively agrees or not.