Mexican standoff

Apr 29, 2016 by

Mexican standoff

Delays, delays and more delays has been the theme of ESC 2016. Delayed reveal of the 2 semi-final running orders, delayed expulsion of Romania from this year’s competition, and more important for the ESC betting community, a frustrating and ultimately fruitless delay waiting for bookmakers to offer each-way prices on the 2 semi-finals.

The Mexican standoff that has ensued brings to mind this classic scene in The Breakfast Club:

It has been sheep-like behaviour from the bookmakers as one by one they have ducked offering e/w and followed one another into the pen marked ‘don’t give ESC punters a sniff this year’.

To be fair the bookmakers have been extremely busy: busy, that is, squeezing every last drop of value out of the prices they have been quoting for qualification and the top 10 market.

Eurovision is the biggest tv betting event of the year and punters are being seriously shortchanged. If you had an 18-runner horse race offered win-only there would rightly be uproar and bookmakers would be brought to account.

What they are currently doing is effectively taking ESC bettors down a side street, tasering them, pepper spraying their face, and just for good measure, in case there are still any small signs of life, going to work on their nether regions with a blowtorch and a set of pliers.

It seems the modern trend that bookmakers no longer want to engage in a fair battle with punters. The once noble contest between bookmaker and punter has been consigned to history and Joe Coral and William Hill must be turning in their graves.

These are multi-million pound earning companies – Gala Coral Group reporting an operating profit of £161.6 million last year – who would rather direct Internet customers to online casinos and rely on the FOBTs that infect their high street shops, preying on society’s most vulnerable, as these sure-fire profit earners are much more preferable to them than giving customers the vaguest chance of holding their own and, whisper it, daring to have the temerity to turn a profit.

The message is loud and clear: you are not allowed to win. And yet these firms are able to advertise on primetime tv in the UK selling the message to viewers there is easy money to be won when the truth is they close down and restrict accounts in the blink of an eye these days if you end up in the cross hairs of their risk managers.

Pausing a moment from this long overdue diatribe, Skybet has today bucked the trend by issuing e/w semi-final prices. Before getting the bunting out, it is only offering first 2 places, a third the odds. It’s at least a start but, message for the rest of the major bookmakers not offering e/w: try cultivating a spine and getting back to your job description.

In terms of ESC 2016 coverage on EntertainmentOdds, this will get underway on Monday when rehearsals kick off at 10am Stockholm time (9am for UK followers). The full rehearsal schedule can be found here.

Today, the jury member list for 2016 has also been revealed, found here.

On day 1 we will see hot favourite Russia rehearse for the first time, a much anticipated moment that will no doubt have a big impact on the Outright market. The following day we will see current 4th favourite Sweden perform for the first time in a slight change of scheduling this year.

The recently well-backed and current Betfair third favourite Bulgaria will be a highlight of day 4 on the Thursday, while Friday will see current 2nd favourite France enter stage left, another major moment during what has been a rollercoaster trading season this year on the Outright.

Rehearsal reports will appear here daily at the end of play each day. There will be less coverage of second rehearsals on the Friday and Saturday when the focus will be on the first rehearsals of the Big 5. These are going to be very long days in the press centre with 20 and 21 countries rehearsing respectively.

The assumption at the moment, though no confirmation has appeared yet, is the Big 5 drawing first half or second half in the Grand Final in their press conferences following their second rehearsals on the Sunday. If so, the order will be: France, Spain, Germany, Italy, UK. Looking into the crystal ball, the prediction here is that France will pull out a second half draw.

Tim B will be helping out with reporting during the second week, giving his expert views on the first dress rehearsals of the 2 semi-finals and the grand final on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It will be very useful to have Tim cast a fresh set of ears and eyes over how entries are coming across on the tv monitor in the press centre.

In what will be my seventh year of trading Eurovision seriously, rehearsals have never felt more significant and we are certainly in for a fascinating fortnight, and hopefully, despite the bookmakers best efforts to impose an ESC trade embargo, a profitable one. Be sure to drop by on Monday for an analysis of day 1.

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  1. Boki

    I share your rage Rob, props to you for writing this. Unfortunately each year is becoming a little bit worse and I don’t think the trend will stop or reverse.

  2. Guildo Horn Forever

    Yes, high street betting shops are effectively acting as fronts for FOBTs.

    I’ve no objection to FOBTs, but it is irritating that the a small slice of the profits donated by the the machine junkies isn’t being put up for potential grabs to gamblers who at least try to use their perceptual intelligence to beat the odds, beat potentially beatable odds, that is.

    Bizarrely, though, I do notice a trend of the more intelligent the punter the higher the risk that they will become addicted to FOBTs. I speculate that the “FOBT at risk” category tend to be people given over to superstitious thinking, perhaps? Or a latent secular need for the expression of a drive to chase a flawed faith?

    For truly laughable EW odds, Rob, I would point to some of the EW terms offered in the world of golf betting. Mind blowing stuff!

    Back on Eurovision betting, I’ve been thinking that there may be some juice in Belgium and Croatia in the Top 10 market.

    Croatia especially.

    France has always been my fave Eurovision package but I’ve been cutting off my nose to spite my face as I didn’t back it when I first saw it, back when it was 20s, and have doggedly refused to accept any of the progressively lesser prices offered since that time.

    Has all the value gone now with France? I do kind of feel that by the big Saturday night show all of Europe will want to be having sex with Amir. In that light, the 3/1+ still on offer now may well be worth a bang?

    • Rob

      I think France is a bit of ticklish one atm, Guildo. So much hinges on its 1st rehearsal. Given France’s patchy track record on that front & some of the performances in the lead up to the Contest, there are understandable concerns. That said, my view is Amir is more than capable of delivering this song well enough & certainly charming viewers. If the staging is fine, & Amir is sounding fine, it could well shorten in the lead up to the Grand Final. But if the staging is poor & his vocal continues to be a bit hit & miss in the last minute, its price could drift out.

  3. Don Wimble

    Hopefully the ongoing campaigns to get the current maximum £100 stake per spin on FOBTs reduced to a maximum £2 stake per spin per 20 seconds will happen and make FOBTs no longer the guaranteed cash cows that they have been in recent years. Then and only then the bookmakers will either have to return to actually being bookmakers, start selling doughnuts, or close the shop, lock up and all go home.

    • Rob

      That would certainly be a positive step, Don. Growing up in the 80s, high street bookies used to be the lifeblood of the provincial town, and a fun, lively place to be on the big race days.

      Now, you set foot in a high street bookies and they are soulless, pitiful places with the hopelessly addicted shovelling their money into these machines.

      But at least staff keep them happy with hot drinks and put up plenty of ‘Responsible Gambling’ signs. Plus, there is always some virtual racing to bet on instead.

  4. hemsby

    Excellent article Rob.

    Unfortunately now the term “Bookmaker” is virtually redundant.They would be more accurately labelled as Accountants as no High St chain has any interest in pitting their wits against any reasonably intelligent/successful gambler,It’s far simpler for them to obtain a guaranteed % profit from mug FOBT punters.

    In the past few weeks I’ve received the dreaded “Dear John” style emails from a couple of outlets closing some fresh accounts I had set up.In the case of Bet Vic it was because I had the temerity to back the Grand National winner ! I did however receive a follow up email informing me I would still be allowed to use their online virtual casino.

    Corals closed my new account after less than a month.My crime this time? To notice before they did that a contestant had withdrawn from The Voice and to bet accordingly.

    What also frustrates me is that Bookmaker representatives are very quick to trumpet how they’ve layed a huge bet in order to gain some free publicity from a media outlet,whilst sweeping under the carpet anyone with any amount of success is restricted to minute staking amounts / has their account closed.

    I guess in our relatively small universe of RTV betting we notice a reduction in the lack of opportunity more acutely than other sports betting genres.It has been pitiful the amount of markets on offer.Paddy Power and recently Hills have at least attempted to provide us ESC enthusiasts with some variation…..all be it with Dick Turpinesque overrounds.

    Good Luck over the next fortnight.Looking forward to reading Tim & your reports.I hope it’s a profitable trip for both of you.

  5. Rob

    Yes, they lost ‘millions’ at the Cheltenham Festival apparently, & stand to lose more ‘millions’ if Leicester win the Premiership.

    I have been looking back at the odds offered previously in the last couple of Eurovisions pre-rehearsals, & even post-1st rehearsals, in terms of semi-final ‘to qualify’ and ‘top 10’.

    It is as clear as day their odds have shortened significantly this year across the board & they are killing value.

    This, despite this year’s 2 semis being more competitive by virtue of field size alone – we have 18 countries battling for 10 slots; in 2014 we had 16/15 & last year 16/17.

  6. Rob

    WH has now issued e/w first 3 places on the 2 semi-finals, so big thumbs up to them. Hopefully other bookies will follow suit.

  7. Guildo Horn Forever

    Just a general comment, here, Rob.

    Been trying to place a few fanciful multiple bets with PP this v early morning (combining Wells Fargo golf, Europa league footy & snooker selections) but with no success – my bets neither being accepted or rejected.

    Nipped onto live chat to discover, as best I understand, that correct score forecasts (in football, at least) can only be backed in singles – they cannot be combined in multiple bets with outright market selections!

    Don’t know if that rule is specific to PP or if correct score selections can be combined with other correct score selections, but I was definitely v surprised, anyway.

    Have you ever heard of that rule? And what’s the thinking behind it? Baffling.

    Am also a bit bothered that the other day I combined Belgium to be Top 10 at EuroV, in multiples with Liverpool vs Villareal correct score predictions – with WH.

    Am bit concerned the doubles will be voided.

    • Rob

      No idea on those PP rules, I’m afraid Guildo. Sorry I can’t help. I know different bookies have different rules regarding combination bets. My focus is ESC right now and it is difficult to combine anything with ESC though I know WH/Coral allow an ESC selection to be doubled with a selection in another sport.

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