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Bookmakers bet against French victory

Text by Marc DAOU

Latest update : 2010-06-04

Chances of France triumphing at the World Cup in South Africa are slim, according to professional bookmakers. But that won’t stopping French sport betting sites from making juicy profits.

French online sport betting sites are rubbing their hands with anticipation just days ahead of the World Cup kick-off. On June 9, a new law legalizing online gambling in France comes into effect, opening up a market worth an estimated 3.5 billion euros. Operators are expecting the World Cup effect to boost bets and make the online gambling business even juicier.
Spain hot favourites
Would you be ready to bet part of your savings on a French victory in the finals? According to most online betting sites, you might want to think twice. Indeed, the odds of "les Bleus" lifting the Cup in South Africa average at 15 to 1.
The frontrunners in betting books this year are Spain, with an average rating of 5 to 1. The 2010 European champions are closely tailed by Brazil, England and Diego Maradonna’s Argentina.
But according to some bookmakers, France’s odds aren’t as unfavourable as they seem.
“A rating of 15 to 1 isn’t that bad. It just means France are viewed as outsiders, which is hardly surprising considering the team’s less than impressive performances in the qualifiers,” the head of  football at online gambling site Betlic told FRANCE 24.
France’s latest outings, against Costa Rica and Tunisia, failed to convince those sceptical of the side's chances. “The team would never have had such low odds after the 1998 World Cup and the Euro in 2000 – not during Zinedine Zidane’s days;” says Cyril Journo, a sport manager at the FDJ, France’s national lottery operator. “Based on recent performance, bookmakers are guessing that France has a 7% chance of winning the World Cup”, he added.
How many penalties will be taken?
Bets are also open on a range of other questions. Some are quite specific, including which African team will go furthest, how many penalties will be taken, the opening game’s half-time score, and which team will score first in the game opposing Chile and Honduras – to name just a few.
Bookmakers base their predicted odds on several criteria, some of which have little or nothing to do with the sport. Part of their estimation depends on a team’s recent results and the physical condition of its players. The resulting percentage is then modified to take into account gamblers’ sometimes irrational behaviour. Finally, in order to stay in the game, bookmakers have to “make sure their odds are relatively similar to those of other operators offering the same bet, but without consulting each other”, explains Cyril Journo.
In the end, the higher the odds, the lower are the team's chances of winning. By near-unanimous consensus, North Korea is the team least likely to win the Cup, with odds estimated at 1,000 to 1.


Date created : 2010-06-04


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