Not only did the 2022 World Cup deliver a lot of shocks for bookmakers, but it also featured a stunning final that thrilled a large number of punters. SBC News spoke to Steve Freeth, bet365’s bookie.
As the action took place in Qatar, bet365 was a popular choice for bettors. Oddschecker’s insights revealed that bet365 beat all the other teams to earn 21.2% of World Cup clicks via the affiliate.
William Hill came in second place with an 8.7% click-share on all the markets, and Flutter brands Sky Bet (owned by Flutter) and Betfair Exchange (4.3% and 4.2%, respectively).
Bett365 also won the 1X2 market across 64 matches, with a click share of 22.1%. This was well ahead of William Hill’s 7.5%.
Freeth shared his thoughts on the World Cup performance and explained how bet365 managed to stay so popular among punters. He also talked through the challenges and triumphs that come with the biggest sporting event in the world.
SBC: How was the World Cup overall from a betting house’s perspective? Did the surprise result count enough to counter the effect of one of most-backed teams reaching the final against the current champion?
Steve Freeth: France and Argentina figured prominently throughout the tournament’s profit and loss columns, but our team managed to come in first just in time!
We won the first two games, but it was not a win-win situation. The shock result for the entire world was Argentina’s defeat at 22/1 Saudi Arabia. However, we wouldn’t let things get away from us for too long. We took a knock on Senegal vs the Netherlands and then on England to see them pass Iran in their opening group match.
Belgium and Croatia were to face off in Group F. However, Morocco won the section and went on to win the knockout stage. They eliminated Spain and Portugal to reach the semi-finals. The Atlas Lions even lost to France in four of their final matches. Bet365 was happy that only two goals had been scored, and they were on bookmakers’ side. It’s safe to say, at the conclusion of the tournament, that both neutrals and bookmakers were huge fans of Walid’s courageous Moroccans.
Didier Deschamps’ France gave us the biggest headache in Qatar and figured prominently in our minus column. Les Bleus caused severe losses to the bet365 profit after heavily-backed victories over Australia, Denmark, and Poland. Robert Lewandowski was twice penalized in the last 16 tie. The result saw us suffer a massive swing against ourselves.
Then there was the last. We need to start somewhere.
After numerous promotions, boosts and offers, customers of bet365 were able to celebrate the 2022 World Cup with Lionel Messi, team-mates and teammates. This was a breathtaking climax. The payout total was in excess of $8 million.
Argentina was bet365’s top outright liability for some time. They had been back from 8/1 to 11/2 prior to Qatar, and weren’t discouraged by the Saudi Arabia game loss. La Albiceleste moved up to 9/1, but this would be a small bump on the road.
Lionel Messi had a lot of support for both the Golden Ball (12/1 to 8/1) and Golden Boot (16/1 to 10/1), but we were able not only avoid one, but also avoided another. We weren’t as lucky in the Young Player of the Tournament. Numerous customers bought our 33/1 on Enzo Fernandez winning the trophy. His outstanding tournament earned him the title of best young player over Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala and teammate Julian Alvarez.
France seemed to freeze in the first period under the intense lights of Lusail Iconic Stadium, but Argentina won the second half. The South American giants displayed dominance in the first 45 minutes, denying France the chance to score.
Argentina looked well-positioned to lift the World Cup. The charismatic Messi seemed to be a big factor in that, but when Angel Di Maria scored two more goals we paid for Argentina to win with our 2 Goals Ahead Early Payment offer. We had already paid a small fortune to Argentina for their loss of a 2-0 lead in quarter-finals against the Netherlands. They then lost a further two goals lead on the most important stage.
Kylian Mbappe ‘s lightning double made sure that Argentina did not win within 90 minutes. Also, the Mbappe & Messi Shot at Target Super Boost (4-6/4) bringing our payouts to eight figures.
At the end of the 90-minute match, both heavyweights in international football were level.
Bet365 Extra Time Extra Chance pays bets that were a loss in the first 90 minutes, but go on to win extra time. Lionel Messi is 15/2 to score two or more goals. Kylian Mbappe will score a hat trick at 66/1, in a concession which also includes Bet Builders.
This was certainly not a bore draw for a final. And bet365’s Bore Draw+ promotion made sure it wasn’t. We refunded more that PS28 million worth of Bore Draw refunds, thanks to eight consecutive 0-0 matches in the World Cup. This is a tournament record.
One lucky winner was also awarded the PS100,000. This is bet365’s top prize in its pre-tournament, free-to-play, tournament-predictor game. The success of Argentina meant that nearly PS400,000 was split between over 15,000 winners.
SBC: Some have referred to SBC as the World Cup’s most successful product. Which was the most popular offering of bet365 in terms user volume?
SF: The Bet Builders were not enough for the bet365 trading team! Winnings Boosts was launched before the tournament. It gives a 25% increase on Bet Builders for selected games in the daily group and every knockout stage game. We also offered Bet Builders in a number of offers, such as Bore Draw+ and 2 Goals Ahead Early Paymentout & Additional Time Extra Chance.
SBC: In which markets were there the highest activity? Did customer preferences change during the tournament?
SF: Player Markets. Shots of Targets and Shots. Player Markets. Player Assists. Anytime Goalscorer.
All these markets are included in the Extra Time Extra Chance Offer. Even if you lost your bet in the first 90 minutes of play, there was still a chance that it would win in additional time. This meant that punters could benefit from Neymar’s extra-time opener Brazil vs Croatia and the crazy card extra period that was Netherlands and Argentina. And of course the World Cup Final, when Messi and Mbappe went head-to-head.
SBC – Did pre-tournament favorites remain the same or did emerging outsiders such as Morocco begin to gain backing?
SF: Morocco would have been our choice! They did us all enough good during the tournament.
We did not want Argentina or Brazil (8/1 to 11/2 in those final months prior the World Cup), so it was a waste of money. Messi won the trophy and the Golden Ball, which was backed by 12/1 to 8/1).
He was just thankful that Mbappe won the Golden Boot. His odds of winning were 16/1 and 10/1, respectively.
SB: Some of Premier League’s most prominent players have been in Qatar. Has this encouraged any punters?
SF: The Premier League is back at the bread and butter. Customers have experienced a spectacular start with Premier League, losing every match in the initial set of 10 matches. With cracking results coming from Brentford and Nottingham Forest, the fightback began in 2023.
SB: Erling Haaland took a break from active playing, but Manchester City backers are more optimistic than ever about his chances and those of the team.
SF: It didn’t take him too long to find his groove again. In August, he was 6/1 to score more than 30 points. If he continues this incredible run, some good bets could be placed. It’s hard to believe that he’s now 11/4 to reach 50 or more goals in PL. But, it’s true. It’s a machine.
Manchester City is now 8/13 favorites for the Premier League title despite the draw with Everton in the New Year.
Arsenal might have some words to say on the title race. With many punters seeing the race as a two-horse race, the Gunners are now considered to be the top team going into 2023.