May 3rd, 2016
On Monday, Tottenham drew Chelsea 2-2; this wouldn't make many headlines had the draw by the Hotspur not handed the biggest underdog in the history of major sports one of the most coveted crowns in all of sports, the EPL Championship. Leicester City, once pegged at 5000/1 odds to win the league, became the largest underdog in terms of odds to ever capture a major sports victory by winning the 2016 EPL season outright.
For Leicester City fans, this was truly a day they will never forget as their "rank outsider" secured the club's first ever EPL championship and first by a club who didn't finish the previous season in the top 3 since the Premier Era began in '93; not to mention Forbes predicts the win will produce an extra $100 million in revenue for the club.
But for bookies, this historic underdog victory means they owe a few people a whole lot of money despite those few people barely waging anything, and that's putting it lightly. Leicester City's EPL championship resulted in some of the largest payouts in sports betting history.
When the 2015-2016 EPL season kicked off last August, any sensible football punter would have been taking a close look at the big four - Man United, Man City, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Not only did they finish 1-4 in the 2014-2015 season, the four clubs represent the largest payrolls, tout the most talented squads and make up a huge portion of the overall winners since the EPL started.
But surprisingly, a very few punters - some surely Leicester City homers while others simply enjoyed the risk - decided to take a closer look at the recently promoted Foxes to win the league despite only earning promotion to the Premier League a few months prior and touting odds of around 5000/1. Well those few punters, most of which never truly considered it a viable result, are rejoicing this week as their small wagers have turned out to produce massive payouts.
A number of the world's largest bookies have informed the media their recent Leicester City payouts were company records. Sky Bet might have been hit the hardest in terms of punters; Sky Bet reported paying out a record £4.6 million to their gamblers, explaining it was the industry's biggest loser with 128 people backing Leicester City at those astronomical odds. Sky Bet’s Sandro Di Michele said:
"The unthinkable has become reality and we’re facing paying out the sort of liability that you joke about at the start of the season."
But it was Ladbrokes Sports who many believe took the largest payout hit in terms of quantity, reporting a company record £25 million payout. But no hard feelings as Ladbrokes' spokesman David Williams explained it was the bookie who provided the odds; the punters simply took the bet.
"The first rule of bookmaking is ‘never say never’, and we broke that rule last August. Leicester winning the title was in the realms of the ridiculous, and it has cost us the biggest anti-post payout in our 130-year history."
Even those unfamiliar with betting can see the 5000/1 odds and know they are long but many novice punters might not realize just how long those odds are. To put it into perspective, other major events similar to the EPL in terms of popularity have never even broke odds of 500/1, let alone 5000/1. Mr. Williams of Ladbrokes' agreed the odds were out of this world:
"For a 5,000-1 shot to emerge as a winner is absolutely off the charts in betting terms...nothing else comes close."
The Grand National has never seen odds longer than 100/1. England never held odds longer than 250/1 during their historic run at the Ashes in 1981. Buster Douglas' victory over World Champion Mike Tyson is considered by many one of the most surprising upsets in sports yet Douglas' odds were around 50/1. The 1980 US Olympic Hockey team did reach the 1000 mark when they were pegged at 1000/1 odds to beat the Soviet but despite all those epic underdog stories, nothing comes close to Leicester's 5000/1.
Now that the craze has begun to settle after months of anxious waiting to see if the budding underdogs could actually pull it off, industry experts are beginning to realize the fallout. Never before have bookies considered offering 5000/1 odds a potential risk but now they must. Ladbrokes believes the Leicester City payouts will change the entire industry's approach to outsiders.
"It means we will have to completely recalibrate how we approach betting on outsiders."
Along with the increased attention on outsiders' odds, bookies are sure to see a major spike in overall underdog bets moving forward. The spike in these more obscure bets might mean more wasted wages that go straight into the bookies' pockets but also mean a much higher chance of another catastrophe like the recent one with Leicester.
Fortunately for online bookmakers, the former is more likely meaning all these newly placed underdog wagers equal major revenue for the bookmakers. Betfred Sports is actually embracing that idea, offering another 5000/1 wager for the 2016-2017 EPL season, but this time on Burnley. Head over to Betfred now to take that bet, remember, even just £1 can mean thousands down the road.