Monday, June 17, 2024

Gambling regulator to discuss football stats bets – BBC News

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Image caption, Football data bets are some of the most widely promoted on betting sites

The gambling watchdog will meet figures in the football betting industry over claims that wrong results are being recorded, the BBC has learned.

Bookmakers use data providers to settle bets placed on statistics like the number of tackles or shots in a match.

But the BBC has spoken to customers who claim they have lost bets because of inaccurate data they cannot appeal.

Andrew Rhodes, CEO of the Gambling Commission, says it is important such decisions are accurate and fair.

Sean Murphy stood to win £370 if Mo Salah had two shots on target in a Premier League game against Manchester City last season.

Salah scored in the 76th minute and replays appeared to show a second shot on target earlier in the half.

Image source, Premier League

Image caption, Mo Salah’s shot was recorded as off target

But, the referee mistakenly awarded a goal-kick and Opta, the data partner of Sean’s bookmaker, recorded the shot as off target.

“You feel robbed,” says Sean.

“If the keeper didn’t get a hand on it, it’s a goal, therefore it’s a shot on target, therefore my bet should’ve won,” he claims.

Stats-based football bets are some of the most widely promoted by bookmakers.

Many offer ‘Bet Builders’ that combine several data predictions into a larger wager.

Connor, another bettor, needed Sunderland to make 14 or more tackles in their FA Cup tie against Newcastle to win his ‘Bet Builder’.

Opta recorded 13 and the bet was a narrow loser.

Image caption, Jobe Bellingham’s challenge was not recorded as a tackle

However, replays appeared to show a tackle by Jobe Bellingham that had been mis-recorded as a blocked pass.

“It was a blatant tackle… I was in disbelief,” Connor says.

“There’s nothing that we can do about it, because there’s no appeals process.”

We showed these two incidents and five others to a football analytics expert.

Dr Alireza Monajati, from the University of East London, assessed that in most cases the customers’ concerns were valid.

“No data company asserts absolute accuracy,” he added. “Even with a high accuracy rate, say 95%, it implies a 5% margin of inaccuracy.”

Image caption, IBAS Managing Director Richard Hayler and his team receive hundreds of disputes about data bets each year

Nearly 300 people tried to appeal their football data bets to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) last year.

It made up around 15% of their workload.

The UK’s biggest betting resolution body admits it is frustrated by the subjective nature of these markets, but it does not overturn the vast majority of cases.

“Our position is, if a bookmaker says we will settle bets based on what a third party declares, we think that is fair enough,” says IBAS Managing Director, Richard Hayler.

“Our concern is that if the person who placed the bet thinks the data agency has made a mistake, there is not currently a mechanism for them to get the agency to have a second look.”

Image source, Statsperform.com/opta

Image caption, Opta’s data is collected in real time and sent to clients

Opta is the third party data agency used by most bookmakers.

Paddy Power, Bet365, William Hill, and many more bookmakers have terms that state Opta’s statistics will be used to settle their data bets.

Others also use data from organisations like the Press Association or governing bodies like FIFA and UEFA.

Different data providers often return different results.

For example, in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final, Opta recorded 30 ‘shots’, whereas FIFA counted 31 ‘attempts on goal’.

Opta’s parent company, Stats Perform, said: “We take the quality, consistency, and accuracy of our sports data incredibly seriously.

“We work tirelessly and are proud of our data collection people, processes and event definitions that underpin the trust in the B2B services we provide to the club, league, media and betting sectors. “

They told us that their clients, including bookmakers, can contact a “premium round-the-clock support team” if they believe there is a data error.

End users, such as betting customers, with a data query “should raise it directly with the company producing the product they are using”.

They added: “If a bettor is not satisfied with the response from their bookmaker,” they will also review queries from the Gambling Commission and IBAS.

The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents most of the UK’s betting companies, declined to comment saying that the mechanics of settling bets is one for individual operators.

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