For many men (and some women) in Britain there is a weekly ritual that has to be followed with common sense failing to prevail and previous disappointments not putting the routine to bed. That ritual is betting on the weekend’s football.
The choice available for a potential gambler is varied with every town’s high street being littered with various established bookmakers such as William Hill, Ladbrokes, etc alongside more local companies as well as online companies which even offer free bets. All exist with the express purpose of relieving punters of their well earned money.
And the choice does not end with the companies themselves, once inside choice of bets range from accumulators, single game bets, first goal scorers, will a player be sent off etc etc? There is pretty much no aspect of the beautiful game that cannot be the subject of a wager.
But it is the outside chance of winning these gambles that is insidious and draws people in. And every now and again someone wins big.
Last season one lucky punter from Edmonton in North London placed a £40 stake on a 14 match accumulator. All of them were predicted correctly and he won a life changing £117,000!!
As Paddy Power, the unlucky bookmakers on this occasion commented, “”What a great win – I’m not sure anyone has profited in such spectacular style although the celebrations could be on ice as he’s not telling his wife!”
But then there is the other side to that coin. Take civil servant Richard Bell from Aigburth who placed £200 on an accumulator in the World Cup that entailed predicting the top goal scorer in the tournament for Argentina, Brazil and Spain respectively. Success would have given him a return of £4,500. However, due to a “system malfunction” and confusion over when the bet was placed, he did not win a single penny from William Hill. Mr Hill hasn’t given up though, saying “I’m owed big winnings”.
It is the thrill of the possibility of hitting the jackpot, in the face of long odds adversity, that will mean Britain continues to see millions of wagers every week. Because maybe, just maybe…