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Punters have low success rate with simple bets


Sharlene King
3 November 2013
With the Melbourne Cup just days away, new Southern Cross University research has shown that punters looking to have a flutter on horses will only have 20 per cent success rate with a ‘win’ compared to more specialised bets, which, while harder to predict, have better returns.

The results of an analysis of more than two million bets placed through a corporate bookmaker in 2010 are contained in a recently published paper, ‘Betting patterns for sports and races: A longitudinal analysis of online wagering in Australia’, in the Journal of Gambling Studies.

The authors are Dr Sally Gainsbury and Mr Alex Russell from the University’s Centre for Gambling Education and Research.

“This is the first paper published internationally to specifically examine the types of bets placed and their outcomes,” lead researcher Dr Gainsbury said of the 2,522,299 bets analysed.

“The study is highly significant as it provides actual behavioural data for betting, whereas previous research has relied on self-reporting, which is not as reliable as people have difficulty accurately recalling exactly how much they gamble.”

The vast majority of bets (87 per cent) were placed on races, with 11 per cent of bets placed on ball sports, of which over half were placed on the various codes of football.

“The results show that most punters opt for simpler bets, which often lose,” said Dr Gainsbury.

“The more specialised bets - though harder to predict - can produce higher wins. Although the research didn’t specifically look at motivations, the finding that most bets were unsuccessful suggests that many bettors are motivated by factors other than just winning money.”

The most popular bets placed to win (45 per cent), however these bets had the lowest average returns to players and 80 per cent of bets were unsuccessful.

More specific bets, such as exacta, quinella, or trifecta, accounted for 17 per cent of all bets placed; these fared worse than win bets as only 13 per cent of these were successful. However, the average return for exotics was almost double that of win returns despite average bets being 11 times smaller. Overall, more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of the bets placed were losses.

The greatest returns were for specific handicap and total bets, which accounted for less than two per cent of bets, but on average were two and a half times larger than win bets, and were the only bet types with a positive average return.

This research was funded by the European Association for the Study of Gambling and the next stage of the research will look at differences between bettors based on their wagering patterns. Presentations with further results from both of these studies will be given at the upcoming National Association for Gambling Studies conference to be held in Sydney later this month (November 20-22).

Race wagering dominates the Australian wagering market, accounting for $20 billion in turnover, as compared to $3.3 billion for sports wagering.

Expenditure on race wagering has been fairly stable over the last 20 years and estimates indicate that racing accounts for 13 per cent of Australia’s total gambling expenditure.

While participation in race wagering has been fairly stable, sports betting is by far the fastest growing segment of the gambling industry, and has more than doubled in popularity since 1999, according to another piece of research from Southern Cross University’s Centre for Gambling Education and Research.

The paper, ‘How the Internet is changing gambling: Findings from an Australian prevalence survey’, published recently in the Journal of Gambling Studies, has found that 22 per cent of Australian adults bet on races in 2011.

The research is the first national prevalence study conducted since 1999 and the first to investigate internet gambling.

Dr Gainsbury said the results showed that gamblers who use the internet for at least some of their gambling were more than twice as likely to bet on races as land-based gamblers and three times more likely to bet on sports.

“Race wagering and sports betting were two of the most popular forms of gambling amongst internet gamblers, used by 64 per cent and 54 per cent of these gamblers respectively. These results come from a nationally representative telephone survey of over 15,000 Australians who were asked about their gambling habits.”

The vast majority of internet gamblers (87 per cent) still prefer to use computers, although nine per cent prefer betting on their mobiles, showing the increased mobility of this activity. Almost one-fifth (17 per cent) of internet gamblers reported that gambling with electronic means such as a credit card, increased their spending and one-in-ten reported sleep disruption as a result of internet gambling.

Significant predictors of being an internet gambler included being male, younger age, having home internet access, gambling on multiple forms and spending more money on gambling.

“The findings show that internet gamblers are somewhat different to land-based gamblers and indicate that internet technology is facilitating highly involved gambling and gambling expenditure,” said Dr Gainsbury.

“Although most people gamble at appropriate levels, a minority of internet gamblers appear to be having problems related to this activity, which could worsen over time.”

The research was part of a three year investigation into internet gambling commissioned by Gambling Research Australia, a partnership between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, and led by CGER director Professor Nerilee Hing, and CGER researchers Dr Sally Gainsbury and Mr Alex Russell. The study also involved Professor Alex Blaszczynski at the University of Sydney, Professor Dan Lubman from Turning Point, and Dr Robert Wood from the University of Lethbridge.

Photo: Dr Sally Gainsbury.