When the bookie gets excited

About the expert:

Director-General and co-founder of the Russian bookmaker Tennisi.bet. he used to be the owner of a large network of internet clubs, an IP-telephony service, several payment providers, as well as amusement arcade venues. He has moved away from being an unsuccessful bettor to being the co-owner of a company with over 700 employees in 4 countries around the world.

Top managers also cheer for certain results and even place bets themselves.

There are many categories of players in betting, and they are all different. There is a category who take up a small percentage that I do not want to talk about, these are the “addicts”. There is another small % who are in the “professional bettors” category. Then there is also the category that easily controls itself and makes bets for fun: places about £5 of bets, watches the game with friends, cheers and enjoys it. There are a dozen more categories in between.

The bookmaker Tennisi was one of the first in Russia to position betting as a form of entertainment. It could be viewed that we are a factory which produces adrenaline and endorphins. For about £5 a person can get a good dose of emotions. If today I win I shall be happy, tomorrow I may lose and I may be upset about it, perhaps I will swear at Dzyuba, who did not score and burned my bet out. The bookmaker business is an entertainment industry and this is just how it works.

In any sport, any event actually, you can always find something interesting, and from this we build a marketing strategy. We clearly emphasize the fun component of bets with the names of some selections in the exclusive line. Our social networks also focus on entertainment and jokes. As an example, look at our page on Instagram and you will see that many people, who have not made a single bet in their lives, are subscribed to it. According to our estimates about half of our social network subscribers fall into that category. They love our content, our jokes and how we report the sports news. We think this is a good fit so we shall continue doing this.

We want our employees to be proud to work at Tennisi, and for them to feel that our company is not only about gambling. Of course, any time that you risk money it is a form of gambling. In sports betting the fun of winning is not always the priority, I place it in the third or fourth place, although there are players for whom it is in the first place. However, there are not as many as in other gambling areas. Casino games for example have pure excitement, like, with roulette, it is impossible to analyse the fall of the ball, this is pure accident.

In sports betting, the player can analyse as well as choose. It depends on him what he wants to bet on, how often and when. The key is that the outcome does not depend on the player or even the bookmaker. How Chelsea will play, none of us really knows. And this is the most important difference between betting and other fixed-odds gambling games.

For example, those who play on the stock exchange professionally or even at an amateur level will say that this involves skill, reading the news and analysing the data. But 20 times a day a person will open the application and watch how the prices for his shares change. Excitement? Where is it? Definitely not in the first place. And for us, there is excitement, for some people, of course, it is higher than the entertainment and emotions, but not for all of them.

Usually, the bookmaker does not have any excitement, it is just a job. In most cases, bets on events are distributed in such a way that the bookmaker doesn't care which team wins, because they have bets on both teams to win and also the draw. For the most part, when the pool is divided approximately equally for all outcomes, bookmakers really don't care whether Spartak or Dynamo will win. The amounts are distributed in such a way that Spartak winning means that you will earn about 5% of the turnover, Dynamo wins maybe 9%, a draw is about 6%.

But there are times when the bookmaker experiences the same emotions as the player. This happens when the majority of bets are on the same outcome. A good example of this is the last fight of Khabib. About 98-99% of all the bets made in our sportsbook were for his victory. We understood that if he loses, we will earn a lot of money. If he wins, then either we will earn much less, or even have to take a loss.

We had a situation where we could hit the jackpot. And no matter how unpatriotic it may have been, since Khabib is still our fighter, whether you are a fan or not a fan you do start watching the fight and begin feeling exactly the same emotions as the player who placed a bet on Khabib's defeat. You start to root for the other guy!

Another vivid example I remember well, is the World Cup final, one of the most unprofitable days in our history, although I remember the important events for the last 15 years. Back then everyone was betting on the victory of France under different circumstances and for many goals. Naturally, we were rooting for Croatia and for a few goals. As a result, France won, there were many goals, and all bookmakers found themselves in a deep deficit that day. No matter how much you love France, the bets placed on this event do not leave the bookmaker indifferent, we were all rooting for Croatia. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens that the bookie experiences the same emotions as the player. 

There is one important observation here, which is that the people who bet on Khabib, bet much less frequently than people who bet on France. Football fans are very likely to come back to bet again rather quickly because there are many matches and tournaments of interest to them nearly all the time. However, those who bet on Khabib will come either just to bet on him or maybe also for other high-profile events. Therefore, this was a big money loss which is not necessarily going to return to us. Khabib has statistics of 29-0: if he had 20 more fights he could easily win them all, 20 times in a row.

Why did we accept and why do we keep accepting such bets? Because records are needed in order to beat them, any series can be interrupted, and nobody is invincible. There are many examples when we accept bets on something that seems to be unnecessary, but then Bang, there is an upset! Bookmakers receive the margin they declare in the long term. For example, Russian boxer Gassiev had a hot streak without any defeats. All the Russians, who placed bets on the fight with Usik, believed that Gassiev would win, BUT he lost. Or let's take another example, Kazakhstan bettors placed many bets for the victory of the local boxer Golovkin. They believed he would win Canelo in their upcoming fight, but it was just the opposite. It happens: sometimes we pay a lot, and sometimes we win a lot. As a result, we get our own volume: we lost one battle but we won another, in the long run, we will always make our margin. However, this does not prevent us from rooting for someone in some events.

I used to have these emotions more often. When you open the first and second shops, there is still not a large stream of bets so that all or most of the events were balanced and you didn't care who would win. If you receive few bets, then in almost any event there is someone to cheer for, because the amounts are distributed unevenly. Therefore, at the initial stage of my career, there were definitely more emotions: each event had some side which was beneficial for me to root for. But then with experience, it doesn't matter to you whether there are a bias and a minus or not. It's one thing when you hear about it from someone, and another when you see the numbers in the report.

When all the mathematics add up, emotions quickly come to the state they are now. Some exclusive and super-top events can cause excitement as they do for a bettor, but in general, you stop watching every match quickly.

Of course, you can draw on emotions by placing some bets yourself. If we talk about employees, then each office has its own internal rules in this regard. I would not like to go into deep details, but we naturally have various limitations. At the same time, I would not say that bookmakers follow other people's employees. Such work has not been put on stream - only in exceptional cases. First, how would we know who the employees are of every other bookmaker? They don’t reveal their payroll to us. We do not know these people. Secondly, if the chief accountant of a rival bookmaker wants to make a bet in Tennisi, we won’t mind it.

First of all, each bookmaker watches only for its own employees. This routine is exactly the same for everyone. Bookmakers don't like it when employees make bets. It is important for us that these people would spend time on doing their job to benefit our company, instead of winning some money in the rival companies.

But there are often cases when a top manager of a company bets on certain events. The people who work in this industry are indulging in betting. But I have not heard of a single case where it was in a perverted form: a bettor gambled away his money, an employee took out someone's cash register, lost all apartments and cars. But it happens that someone bets and wins quite a lot. We have precedents that people from other companies are betting like this. It is pointless to deny this phenomenon, but it never reached the point of absurdity, I have not heard of such incidents from my office or anyone from the bookmakers that we have a connection with.

Also, I would like to add that I have not heard a single hideous story about employee betting on fixed matches. It is clear that bookmakers sometimes have insider information. But I would like to note that we have a pleasant environment in this respect. Are no sneaky situations when people learn something like that and make bets in some rival companies. There is definitely no such thing, and it is very pleasant.

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