Football World Cup, a billion-dollar extravaganza for punters

Betting turnover on the World Cup will be in the billions of dollars — and bookmakers fear a big payout if Gareth Southgate's England side finally win the trophy after a 56-year wait.

The World Cup generates huge interest from punters, in stark contrast to the other quadrennial global sporting showpiece, the Olympics, which "barely causes a ripple", a leading English bookmaker told AFP.

Punters will cast their eyes over Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe on football's greatest stage in Qatar from Sunday and beat a path to the doors of bookmakers round the world or bet online.

The Olympics may attract a global television audience to compare to the World Cup but with 32 different sports it does not whet the appetite of the betting public.

"The World Cup is by far the biggest betting event we see, with no comparison to the Olympics, which barely causes a ripple amongst punters," David Stevens, head of public relations at Coral bookmakers, told AFP.

"Estimates for global turnover on this World Cup vary wildly.

"While we'll never know the exact figure, it's fair to say it will be in the billions of dollars around the world, given the far-reaching appeal of the World Cup, from America to Asia and all points in between."

William Woodhams, CEO of the world's oldest bookmakers Fitzdares, said the Beautiful Game appeals to all.

"Football is a mature betting market, the biggest in Europe and the World Cup is popular with the casual punter through to the seasoned professional or high-staking punter."

Woodhams and Stevens say the timing of the kick-offs, with Qatar three hours ahead of Britain and two hours ahead of Western Europe, is also a godsend for European punters and bookmakers alike.

This time-friendly scenario will also lend itself Woodhams believes to a significant rise in the amount of live betting during a game. 

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