Short Report

Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy

, 7:18

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Effects of expertise on football betting

  • Yasser KhazaalAffiliated withGeneva University Hospitals Email author 
  • , Anne ChattonAffiliated withGeneva University Hospitals
  • , Joël BillieuxAffiliated withPsychological Sciences Research Institute, Catholic University of Louvain
  • , Lucio BizziniAffiliated withGeneva University Hospitals
  • , Grégoire MonneyAffiliated withGeneva University Hospitals
  • , Emmanuelle FresardAffiliated withGeneva University Hospitals
  • , Gabriel ThorensAffiliated withGeneva University Hospitals
  • , Guido BondolfiAffiliated withGeneva University Hospitals
  • , Nady El-GuebalyAffiliated withAddiction Division, University of Calgary
    • , Daniele ZullinoAffiliated withGeneva University Hospitals
    • , Riaz KhanAffiliated withGeneva University Hospitals



Football (soccer) is one of the most popular sports in the world, including Europe. It is associated with important betting activities. A common belief, widely spread among those who participate in gambling activities, is that knowledge and expertise on football lead to better prediction skills for match outcomes. If unfounded, however, this belief should be considered as a form of “illusion of control.” The aim of this study was to examine whether football experts are better than nonexperts at predicting football match scores.


Two hundred and fifty-eight persons took part in the study: 21.3% as football experts, 54.3% as laypersons (non-initiated to football), and 24.4% as football amateurs. They predicted the scores of the first 10 matches of the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship. Logistic regressions were carried out to assess the link between the accuracy of the forecasted scores and the expertise of the participants (expert, amateur, layperson), controlling for age and gender.


The variables assessed did not predict the accuracy of scoring prognosis (R2 ranged from 1% to 6%).


Expertise, age, and gender did not appear to have an impact on the accuracy of the football match prognoses. Therefore, the belief that football expertise improves betting skills is no more than a cognitive distortion called the “illusion of control.” Gamblers may benefit from psychological interventions that target the illusion of control related to their believed links between betting skills and football expertise. Public health policies may need to consider the phenomenon in order to prevent problem gambling related to football betting.


Betting Sport betting Sport Football Gambling Addiction