Bookmakers Relieved By England Loss, Supermarkets' Shares Fall
England's World Cup "disappointment" on Wednesday "offered some relief to British bookmakers," which "stood to lose heavily if England made it to the final," according to Louisa Clarence-Smith of the LONDON TIMES. Paddy Power Betfair gained 200p on the FTSE 100 to £85.05 ($112.40) in late-morning trading on Thursday. William Hill was also up, about 4.25p at 300.25p, and GVC rose about 15p to £10.99 ($14.52). England was beaten by Croatia after an extra-time goal in the semifinal match. British supermarkets, "which had enjoyed sales growth from the World Cup and the hot weather, were deflated" Thursday morning. J Sainsbury lost about 2.5p at 326p; Morrisons was trading down about 1.25p at 254.75p; and Tesco fell nearly 1p to 253.75p. ITV, which was "bolstered by huge viewing figures for the England games," was the "top faller" on the FTSE 100, down almost 5.5p at 172p (LONDON TIMES, 7/12). In London, Camilla Hodgson reported British bookies were "expected to take in an estimated" £1.2B ($1.59B) in bets on the World Cup, with consumers "taking advantage of offers online and on apps in particular." An estimated £20M ($26.43M) was bet on England's opening World Cup match against Tunisia alone (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/12).
PROP LOSS: In London, Rob Davies reported Sporting Index, the U.K.'s largest spread-betting firm, "stands to lose tens of thousands of pounds to an avid high-stakes gambler after miscalculating a novelty World Cup offer." Former City trader Simon Cawkwell bet on a market labeled "Shocking Decision, Ref!," which allowed punters to estimate "the number of times the ball would cross the line in the tournament without a goal ultimately being given." Sporting Index's initial estimate of up to 22.5 is thought to have been based on the tournament's use of a VAR review system, which its analysts believed would lead to "a flurry of goals being chalked off." That happened "just once in the first 20 games." The decision means Cawkwell stands to win £2,000 ($2,600) for every number below 22.5. Ahead of the semifinals, the ball had crossed the line without a goal being given seven times in 60 games, putting Cawkwell "on course to win" more than £30,000 ($39,600) (GUARDIAN, 7/11).
BITCOIN BUST: CALVIN AYRE's Steven Stradbrooke reported Asian police forces are "ramping up their attacks on unauthorized betting operators" as the World Cup draws to a close. Authorities in China's Guangdong province announced Wednesday that they had arrested 540 individuals involved in a "massive online football betting operation" that reportedly handled 10B yuan ($1.5B) worth of wagers from more than 330,000 customers, "who primarily used Bitcoin as gambling currency." In addition to the arrests, police seized 5M yuan ($750,000) in assets and another 10M yuan ($1.5M) worth of virtual currency (CALVIN AYRE, 7/11).