Four years ago Mario Götze’s extra-time winner saw Germany beat Argentina to lift the World cup in Rio’s Maracanã Stadium. Today it began again, as host nation Russia beat Saudi Arabia, 5-0, at the Luzhniki Stadium.
For bookmakers and sports betting companies, the World Cup will be a betting bonanza. Customers who ordinarily wouldn’t even notice a game between Egypt and Uruguay will be watching avidly, no doubt with Liverpool supporters having backed Mo Salah to be first goal-scorer and more than one firm offering a novelty bet on what Luis Suarez might eat during the game.
Who’s going to win the World Cup? Well, Brazil and Germany are the favorites, England is a general 16-to-1, and there are plenty of tempting outsiders.
But the World Cup offers the chance to bet on more than just the winner of the tournament. Along with a welter of betting options on individual games, you can also bet on the winner of the Golden Boot (the top goal-scorer in the tournament), the eight groups, the finalists, the highest scoring team, the lowest scoring team, the best Asian/African/European team.
The list is endless.
In fact, there’s only one certainty with the 2018 edition of the World Cup: Gamblers will open new accounts with sports betting companies in record numbers, and the companies will be going out of their way to entice them with a plethora of special offers.
Which begs a question
There are so many special offers at this year’s World Cup that there’s one obvious question: Could I be sure of making a profit on the tournament simply by using the bookies’ special offers?
Well, there are a host of sign-up offers. Looking down the seemingly endless list on Oddschecker, I can get 100-to-1 for Brazil to win the World Cup; 200-to-1 against England winning and the same price for Lionel Messi to score the most goals at the tournament. Those are attractive offers, except for one thing: The amount of money the relevant bookmaker will allow me to stake will be strictly limited. Yes, Betfair will offer me 100-to-1 against Brazil winning the World Cup, but the maximum stake is £1 ($1.35), so it looks as if the Ferrari will have to wait.
So you’re not going to make a fortune out of sign-up offers, even if you do devote a day of your life to opening accounts. If I were going to choose just one, it would be the “free bet every time your team wins” offer which two or three online companies are offering. Choose one of the tournament favorites with easy group games. Belgium, for example, faces Tunisia, Panama, and, er… England in their opening games – and you are almost guaranteed to make money if you use your free bets wisely.
Suppose I already have an account?
But most of the people reading this article will already have accounts with online sports betting companies. They may not wish to go through the tedious process of opening new accounts.
No problem – there are still plenty of special offers, especially on the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia, where one company will refund money on all losing bets if Russia wins and another will refund your stake if Russia loses. Two companies offer a refund if your team is knocked out on penalties, which will undoubtedly happen to someone. Although not England, of course.
Back a player to win the Golden Boot with Betfred and they will give you a free bet for every game in which your chosen player scores. That is a market where it may pay to look very closely at who will be taking the penalties.
So there are plenty of markets – and plenty of special offers. Anyone taking advantage of them is going to significantly increase their chances of being in profit when the final whistle blows on Sunday, July 15. There can never be any guarantees in sport, but a little homework will go a long way. There is, for example, no point backing your team to win the World Cup with company A if company B will give you the same odds and give your money back if your team goes out on penalties.
The main thing, though, is to enjoy the tournament. My personal hope is that, as I wrote recently, the tournament isn’t scarred by violence and/or racism. Let’s hope the fans, like the teams I’ve backed, are on their best behavior.