Sports betting has always been a popular pastime in the UK, but it’s fair to say that this trend has gathered more momentum in the digital age. In fact, remote sports betting accounts for nearly 40% of the total online GGY in March 2020, which rose by 8.1% to £5.7 billion.
Of course, this has much to do with a relatively relaxed set of laws on UK gambling activities, but it’s also driven by our immense love of sports and particularly punter-friendly disciplines like horse racing, boxing, and football.
Even Formula One is incredibly popular amongst fans and bettors alike, so it’s little wonder that online sports wagering continues to see increased demand across the board.
To this end, sportsbooks and the best betting sites in the UK are poised for a bumper summer, especially with the delayed Euros now underway and England once again one of the sides fancied to do well. But can bookmakers look forward to a bumper tournament, and how reliant are they on England reaching the latter stages?
Can UK Brands Recapture the Magic of 2016?
As England’s national sport, it should come as no surprise that the appearance of the Three Lions in any major tournament remains a tremendous source of excitement amongst fans.
If we also accept that approximately 76.8% of the football audience in the UK likes to wager on the action as it unfolds, it stands to reason that sportsbooks can really cash in when such tournaments get underway.
This was borne out during Euro 2016, which delivered record profits for several betting brands such as Unibet, William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair. Unibet enjoyed a particularly profitable tournament, recording gross winnings revenue of £126.6 billion during Q2 and an increase of 57% on the previous quarter’s figures.
A staggering £19.6 million (or 15.5%) came directly from Euro 2016 wagers, while Paddy Power Betfair and William Hill trailed closely behind as fans flocked to bet on the outcome of individual games, the tournament as a whole and a raft of other innovative markets.
There’s no doubt that these revenues were also maximised by the hype that surrounded England’s relatively exciting young side in 2016, along with the fact that the Three Lions were largely unfancied by sportsbooks at the beginning of the tournament (leading to genuinely competitive odds).
In fact, the leading UK bookies would have arguably taken more had England not fallen to underdogs Iceland during the round of 16, preventing potential clashes with France and Portugal later in the tournament.
Can England Go All the Way in Euro 2020?
Given the performance of market leading sportsbooks in 2016 and the typical UK punter’s penchant for betting on England, operators will be hoping that the Three Lions are able to fulfil their potential and capitalise on home advantage this time around.
Remember, each of the two semi-finals and the showpiece final will be hosted at Wembley, so England may never have a better chance to end their 55-year major tournament hoodoo.
Unsurprisingly, there have already been a slew of wagers on the Three Lions to prevail this time around, with this having seen the side’s odds shorten to 11/2 in a matter of days.
Because of this, Gareth Southgate’s men are second favourites behind world champions France, who are quoted at around 7/2 to claim their third European Championship since 1984.
England have even emerged as second favourites ahead of the much-fancied Belgium (6/1) and Italy (7/1), both of whom impressed in game week one and secured 3-0 victories over Turkey and Russia respectively.
Clearly, this sentiment will have already translated into increased revenues for UK bookies, but there’s no doubt that they could optimise their profits even further if England reach the latter stages of the tournament.
The main stumbling block here appears to be the draw, especially with England likely to top Group D having already beaten an experienced Croatia side 1-0 at Wembley.
In this case, England will face the runners-up from the dreaded Group F, which will most likely mean a match against one of Germany, Portugal (the current holders) and world champions France.
Make no mistake; defeat in the round of 16 would represent something of a missed opportunity for sportsbooks on these shores, just as it did in 2016.
However, an England win in these circumstances would potentially earmark the Three Lions as tournament favourites, triggering an avalanche of wagers and a bumper summer for Britain’s betting brands.