Are the British just hardcore gamblers?

I was watching the evening news, which talked about all the bets that were being taken in London regarding Kate and William’s wedding. 5 to 4 odds she wears a hat, spreads on when their first child will be born. Stupid crap like that.

I remember a similar phenomenon when the last Pope was being chosen, and that wasn’t even natively English like the royals.

I don’t get it. Is it a cultural thing that explains the British’s propensity towards absurd bets of this sort? Is it the media blowing it out of proportion? Or is it just a law (or lack thereof) that makes it easier for this sort of thing to happen in the UK?

Isnt it because it’s legal to do so in England? And so, gamblers and gambles flock there?

I’d question what proportion of the British population is gambling on things like trivia concerning the royals. It only needs one or two hundred to make it into a story. What would be a more useful measure is the proportion of GDP that goes into gambling: that’s more likely to tell you if people are “hardcore gamblers”.

Fluff pieces on the news do not a phenomenon make.

I live in fairly inner city London. There is such a large number of betting shops within just a few miles of me that i find it quite depressing. I’ve no moral objection to gambling personally but in what is essentialy quite a poor area it’s downheartening to see so many people throwing their money away.

Super Bowl prop bets were just as silly. Here’s some from the 2011 Super Bowl:

Will Fergie Wear a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Outfit? 5:1

How Many Times Will FOX Mention Glee?

How Long Will Christina Aguilera Hold the Word “Brave” in National Anthem? (Over/Under at 6 seconds.)

What color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach’s head? (Yellow led the pack at 3:2)

Or here:

And so on… I don’t think this is anything new.

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Vegas bookies give odds on weird things as well. Maybe they’re posting odds on the wedding, and you can figure it’s just something bookies do to call attention to themselves?


DAMN pulykamell:'s response wasn’t there when I started writing. So yeah, what he said:

Or here:

And so on… I don’t think this is anything new.

Is there anything to stop Christina Aguilera from telling her hairdresser/coke dealer/pizza delivery guy to put $10,000 on the “over” for the bet on the National Anthem?

It seems like this is the kind of a bet that is so simple to defraud, and Vegas dosen’t usually seem to go for something they could get burned on.

I have wondered about this for a while, but when I saw the thread, I thought I may as well ask…

Gambling is legal in the UK, and there’s a lot of money in gambling. Thus there are lots of gambling establishments.

I doubt it needs that. These stories come up with all the regularity of a PR person’s Outlook Reminder. My guess is that the betting companies just look at upcoming events and announce the odds they are taking, and that precipitates the bets.

Same here in Dublin. The shops in my neighbourhood have been closing down at an unbelievable rate over the past couple years. The one that seems impervious to the recession is the bookie.

Yes, these “wacky bet” stories are very often publicity stunts by the bookmakers. They make nice and easy fluff stories for the newspapers, and are a great way of getting free advertising for the bookies. Very often they will quote a spokesman from Ladrokes or William Hill or whoever pontificating about the likelihood of snow falling in London on Christmas Day etc. I can’t believe that these sorts of bets are are major source of revenue for them.

Do you mean that in the US you couldn’t bet on things like that if you wanted to?

Not even a single gambler is required for these headlines - the bookmakers just invent a number and lazy journalists report it.

It depends on the state. In most states, UK-style bookmaking is illegal. Nevada is a famous exception. I understand that people in other US states use internet betting to get round it, but the legality of that is questionable.

I hear that, Swords is a ghost town unless you wanna sell gold or place a bet. :frowning:

Exactly. And the factor common to all such stories is that they have nothing whatsoever to do with activities on which they do make money, such as horse racing and football. Their purpose is to suggest to the type of people who wouldn’t normally bet that people like them might actually frequent betting shops after all. It’s not as if the demographics of those interested in what Kate wears on her big day will have much in common with those popularly thought to hang out in bookies (i.e. elderly working-class men). The bookmakers are therefore trying to attract a different type of customer, even if they’re also expecting that those new customers will then mostly bet on the same type of things as their existing ones.

No one is physically stopping you from making bets with your friends or co-workers, but it’s illegal. It’s very common to have an office pool where you’re randomly assigned a pair of digits and win based on whether the score of the Super Bowl (mod 10) matches those digits, and I doubt that law enforcement cares. But if you were to open a bookmaking joint and advertise, you’d bring down the law very fast.

Blame the Puritan ethics set ingrained on Americans - you can only bet on things the state specifically tells you you’re allowed to. Indian Reservations are not subject to state law, being in some sense granted sovereign rights by the federal government on the territory they are reserved. In addition there’s state lotteries basically everywhere, and Michigan has allowed non-Indian casinos in very specific locations - the 3 downtown Detroit casinos - as well quite a few horse racing tracks that since the building of the casinos have pushed the state to allow them more gambling methods in order to effectively compete. Thus the state has given very specific permission to various groups to allow gambling, and it’s otherwise not legal.

One thing I’m not sure about is how fantasy sports played for money are handled by gambling laws, as it’s pretty common pretty much everywhere and sure sounds like gambling just as much as poker.

In most U.S. states, there is some form of legalized gambling, but the vast majority is either:

a) state-run lotteries,
b) casinos (some owned by Indian tribes, some privately owned), or
c) racing (horses or greyhounds)

Even that is a big change from 30 or 40 years ago, when Nevada (and, later, Atlantic City) were about the only places which had legalized gambling of any sort beyond racing. Various states decided that gambling was a way to increase tax revenues, and, now, it’s fairly commonplace in most areas.

But, as BDoors notes, bookmaking, such as sports books, while very popular, is largely illegal outside of Nevada.

I’ve never been able to square the American love of freedom with the restrictive gambling laws. What business of the State’s is it if a guy wishes to make a bet? Do harsh anti-gambling laws have wide popular support in the US?

It’s the Puritan thing, as glowacks notes. I’d say that, generally, anti-gambling laws aren’t terribly popular, but, in most areas, the primary motivation to get them repealed isn’t popular acclaim by voters, but the state deciding that it wants its cut on the action. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a political candidate successfully run on a platform that strongly supported easing restrictions on gambling.

Anti-gambling laws tend to be more popular in the Bible Belt states, but, generally, even if they’re on the books, enforcement is often pretty spotty. Things like Super Bowl “squares” games (described by glowacks) and NCAA basketball tournament “brackets” are exceedingly popular, but are usually on a small scale (i.e., the “office pool”). Technically illegal, but there’s no enforcement.

Larger-scale illegal bookmaking is often tied into organized crime, and that’s where you do start to see law enforcement get involved.

Some people don’t like the states being involved in gambling; they point to gambling addictions, and that gambling can be, in effect, a regressive tax (since the state-sponsored gambling forms often appeal to lower-income groups).