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The Olympics comes to an end with record-breaking numbers for bookies


Last night culminated in the end of the London 2012 Olympic Games in Great Britain, and whilst most people were glued to their screens watching the Spice Girls, Madness, Queen and The Who perform at the extravaganza; there were others who were glued to the computers, counting the profits of a very successful Olympic Games. These were the bookmakers.

Sports books across the United Kingdom have seen an unprecedented rise in the amount of bets wagered during the Olympic Games, the largest ever recorded for online sportsbooks and betting offices alike around the globe. Everyone it seemed wanted a punt on an event at what is has – for the moment at least – become known as the “greatest games ever”.

Large figures have been a tremendous part of this Olympic Games, with 70,000 being stated as the number of volunteer workers, £11 billion being touted as the total cost for the Games, and well over £100 million in wagered bets during the games. None of this of course includes the countless millions spent by visitors to London during the Games on their Visa cards.

So how much of a windfall have the bookies come away with here, and why?

Most bookmakers in Britain have seen increases of between 6%-15% during the same time last year. After a hugely successful Euro 2012 tournament where millions of pounds were also taken, the bookies were expected a quite run of it for this tournament. What happened to change that?

The influx of tourists having access to Britain’s high street betting offices certainly raised the total fractionally; whilst mobile application usage have increased tenfold over the last six months, and are now at such a rate that for the every Brit, sat in the pub watching the games on a weekend, it would have been considered rude not to have a wager of some sort! Another massive factor in the rise of bookmaker’s profits during the Olympics cannot be underestimated; the role of the home nation’s population. Britain’s felt proud and nationalistic hosting the 2012 Olympic Games and as such threw everything behind their athletes and Team GB – including their wallets to a certain extent.

Although in total the entire profit made by bookies during the Olympics only adds up to an average weekend of betting in the Barclays Premier Football League – English football’s top division – it is still an unprecedented rate; and one that won’t likely be beaten in years to come for some time. Specifically as Britain is a very liberal country when it comes to betting on sports; not many other countries who will host in the games in the future can say the same.

This graph represents the volume of bets placed on Usain Bolt at the 100m race (Betfair online sportsbook)

Volume of bets placed on Usain Bolt at the 100m race (Betfair)