Betting Patterns for Sports and Races: A Longitudinal Analysis of Online Wagering in Australia

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Abstract

Online wagering is increasing in popularity as it is easily accessible through websites which market these services widely. However, few studies have examined online betting based on actual behavioural data. This paper describes the results of an analysis of 2,522,299 bets placed with an Australian online wagering operator over a 1-year period. The majority of bets placed were for a win (45.31 %) and were placed on races (86.74 %) or sports (11.29 %). Sports betting was dominated by ball sports, reflecting popular interest in these events. More than three-quarters (77.63 %) of the bets were losses and there was large variation in bet size between bet types and events bet on although average bets were higher than in previously reported studies. The most popular bets placed to win, had a relatively high rate of losses and lowest average returns, which may reflect less sophisticated betting behaviour. More specific handicap and total bets were placed by fewer customers, but were larger bets with the greatest returns. Similarly, bets placed on less popular sporting events had greater average returns potentially reflecting greater customer sophistication and knowledge raising the possibility of a proportion of bettors being more ‘skilled’. As the first paper to analyze the types of bets placed on events and outcomes the results support the notion that wagering is an entertainment activity, and the majority of customers are motivated by factors other than simply winning money.