Sports betting

Weekend Review: Cheltenham profits offset by international football “horror story”

Harry Kane netting in England’s two comfortable wins to nil saw the bookies accrue big losses

William Hill had Northern Ireland to thank after their draw with the Netherlands saved the UK bookmaker from a real betting “horror story” this weekend.

International football returned in the shape of Euro 2020 qualifiers as England beat Montenegro 7-0 on Thursday and Kosovo 4-0 on Sunday.

Tottenham talisman Harry Kane scored four goals across the two matches, including a hat-trick at Wembley, to pile the misery on the layers who feared high scorelines and wins to nil.

Northern Ireland holding on for a 0-0 draw with Holland – despite failing to have a shot on target – proved the only silver lining for William Hill.

The operator’s Rupert Adams said: “International weekends are always difficult, and we could have done without Harry Kane scoring.

“It was a horror story until Northern Ireland drew with Netherlands.”

It was a similar tale at Kindred Group. The firm’s Ali Gill said: “England’s successful international break cost us significantly as we lost out on both matches, with almost everything going the way of the punters.”

England are now joint 9-2 favourites with France with Betfred to win Euro 2020, while Portugal have come in from 16-1 to 12-1 due to Cristiano Ronaldo’s red-hot international form.

Operator coffers were however improved by racing results over the weekend, as several favourites failed to deliver.

Hills’ Adams said: “Racing was very up and down – some bad favourites but a decent number of outsiders at Cheltenham means we were ahead.”

Unibet enjoyed success in its sponsored portfolio. Gill told EGR Intel: “In the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, winner Saldier attracted a small amount of support, but obviously nowhere near that of the 2/5 favourite Klassical Dream in a great result for bookmakers.

“The Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday also went our way in what was overall a good weekend of racing.

“The favourite Benny’s Bridge was highly disappointing, and although the top three did see some money between them, it wasn’t enough to turn this one the way of the punters,” he added.

Elsewhere, Betfred is also taking bets on whether it will snow during December’s general election. Peter Spencer said: “If there is snow on the ground it will likely benefit Jeremy Corbyn, because the elderly generation won’t be able to get out and vote.”

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