Press Office

2008 European Football Championships: National sentiments influence betting patterns

Press release from 26 May 2008

Patriotic feelings among soccer fans are reflected in the odds given on bets. As is revealed in a survey recently conducted by RWI Essen and Humboldt University in Berlin in advance of the UEFA Euro 2008, the odds quoted by bookmakers in several countries are influenced by whether the bets are on one's own team or on another country's team. The distortions are not large enough, however, to be able to derive a profitable investment strategy. No deviations can be detected in Germany, England, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

It has been found that in some European countries, when bets are being placed on football matches, affinities for the "home team" trigger systematic distortions in the odds offered by bookmakers for victory by one's own national team. This was discovered in a study recently carried out by RWI Essen and Humboldt University in Berlin. Forming the basis for the study were odds offered by online bookmakers in twelve European countries. The data were collected during the qualification phase for the UEFA Euro 2008.

Findings in Bulgaria and Denmark showed that - in contrast to other countries - wagerers held a strong positive bias in regard to their own teams' prospects in both "home" and "away" matches. The same is true for the away games played by the Spanish crew and the home games played by the Italian national team. In Sweden, by comparison, the chances for victory by the Swedes' own team were felt to be lower both at home and away than in other countries. In France and Slovenia these deviations were found only for home games. In Germany, England, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, by contrast, there is no evidence of differing evaluations of gamblers' own national teams.

Distortions could be beneficial or detrimental for bettors

These findings can be explained by differences in bettor behavior in the individual countries. On the one hand, perception bias can cause bettors to overestimate their own team's chances for victory. Bookmakers can use such distortions to their advantage by reducing their odds on the home team's victory accordingly. On the other hand, a loyalty bias might keep bettors - due to emotional ties to their own national teams - from betting against their team. This can lead to either lower or higher odds, and can thus be definitely to the advantage of gamblers at home.

Profitable investment strategies cannot, however, be derived from the results of this study. The fees charged by bookmakers outstrip any profits that might be realized by making skilful use of the "price differences" determined here.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. Michael Kvasnicka, Phone:+49 30 20 21 598-14,
Sabine Weiler ( RWI Press Office), Phone: +49 201 8149-213,

This press release is based on Ruhr Economic Paper #42 ("Against All Odds? National Sentiment and Wagering on European Football"). It is available as a PDF file at www.rwi-essen.de/publikationen/ruhr-economic-papers/.

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