Against The Odds: Betting Markets for London 2012

Last month I wrote about the use of social media at the London 2012 Games.
This morning I received an alert about the launch of Betstar’s betting markets for the Games.
Betstar is one of many companies offering odds for the Games. Others involved include:

I have been monitoring predictions and projections for medals in the London Games since March 2011 and have seen a growing interest in my posts in the last three months.
It will be interesting to compare the accuracy of the betting markets in comparison to performance data used by Infostrada and other predictions using non-performance data.
Owen Gibson wrote in detail earlier this month about measures in place to tackle corruption at the Games. He reported that:

This year, for the first time, almost every minute of Olympic action across 26 sports will be broadcast live online and bookmakers will offer markets on every sport. During the Games, daily meetings will bring together the UK betting watchdog, the Gambling Commission; specialists from the Metropolitan police’s Operation Podium unit; the IOC and the Border Agency.

He noted the establishment of a code of practice that includes a six-step action plan aimed at:

  • Ensuring that sports have adequate rules and regulations.
  • A designated official to deal with the issue.
  • A dedicated integrity unit.
  • An extensive education programme.
  • Competition contracts that clearly specify the obligations of athletes.
  • Information-sharing agreements with bookmakers.

I am keen to find out what data betting agencies use to determine their odds. Notwithstanding the integrity issues raised by gambling the markets offer insights into performance expectations.
Betfair has the following markets visible on their website:

Most Gold medals:


Owen concluded his post on corruption with these observations:

Opinions diverge on how great the threat to the Games is. Some betting experts point out that Olympic sports are not that popular on the huge illegal gambling markets in Asia, while any attempt to manipulate the market through legal operators is likely to be quickly picked up due to the relative lack of liquidity compared with more popular sports such as horse racing, cricket and football.
But others believe that the sheer volume of sport on show, the potential temptation for poorly paid athletes for whom simply being at the Games equates to success, and the possibility of betting on myriad outcomes within events mean the risks are far greater than at any previous Games. (My emphasis)

I recall seeing Owen’s report last year about the IOC’s concerns about illegal betting. It is illuminating to observe developments over the last twelve months. I think the combination of hyperactive social media and the presence of a vibrant betting market will provide a moment of change for the Olympic Movement.
These are distinctively different Games and a very long way from Much Wenlock.
Photo Credit
Much Wenlock


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