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Winter World Cup and how it affected the betting industry

The 2022 World Cup created all kinds of inconveniences worldwide in many industries, but how did it affect the betting world?

When the 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar, it immediately created concerns and obstacles which would need to be overcome in order to stage a successful event. The Human Rights record and the climate were at the top of those lists, and rightly so. The former remains an ongoing debate which should remain in the public eye, and the latter created a World Cup first with the tournament being staged at the end of the year with all but one of the stadiums featuring air-conditioning. However, industries were impacted far and wide, and that includes the betting world who, despite being more popular than ever, needed to adapt as they anticipated a different level of customer.

Punters, regular or casual, expect to see football odds presented to them in a variety of ways, often regarding the biggest upcoming matches or "specials" which sometimes come accompanied with boosts. That remained the case with the World Cup, one which proved to be one of the most unpredictable on record, and it led to fluctuating betting odds throughout the tournament. No-one could have predicted Saudi Arabia defeating eventual winners Argentina or Morocco reaching the semi-finals, but odds compilers were working harder than normal to adapt to the amount of outsiders prevailing from daunting fixtures, that subsequently leading to outright tournament odds changing by the day.

Given the magnitude of the World Cup and it being the most popular worldwide betting event on the planet, companies were bombarded with more bets than normal over a short period, and the impact at the conclusion needed to be taken into account. Two days after the final, EFL Cup ties involving high-profile Premier League clubs were taking place, but there was inevitably going to be a lull in income given the sheer amount of money which was placed on the final. The impact would have also been felt over the Christmas and New Year period given the cost-of-living crisis on the back of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and it may have taken some regular punters time to place their previous weekly accumulator.

Saudi Arabia's Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on November 22, 2022© Reuters

On the flip side, betting companies had a better opportunity to retain new customers. The lack of break between the transition from international action back to domestic football meant that those new customers in question may be more tempted to place bets that they would not usually have done. The time of the year should also be taken into consideration with more people remaining inside due to the weather, potentially using their phones and apps a lot more than usual. When the World Cup takes place in the summer, holidays are being taken and more activities are taking place outside, and there is often a month or so until the Premier League and other major leagues get back underway.

Switching back to the setting of betting odds, it became more of a difficult job until players who had represented their nations from the quarter-finals onwards had returned to their clubs. If an outsider was facing a club who were missing their Moroccan, Croatian, French or Argentine contingent, there was a window of opportunity to take advantage, and that may or may not be reflected in the odds. By New Year, most teams were back to normal, but it was a factor which the betting industry had to take into consideration.

In the short term, the majority of betting companies, if not all, would have been raking in the profits, but a long-term view needed to be taken. Every two years, a major tournament takes place to fill what is otherwise the least popular period of the calendar when it comes to placing bets. Even though Euro 2020 being staged a year later than scheduled meant that the previous boom came in the summer of 2021, betting brands still needed to plan accordingly, balancing those profits with a short and long vision. The alteration to the football calendar means that there will be more games than usual taking place between January and May, but with no major football tournament or Olympics taking place in 2023, they cannot get ahead of themselves.

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