It is fashionable to speak of “dynasties,” i.e. multiple repeat title-winners, in many sports these days, but perhaps no championship is so susceptible to dominance by a single force as the Tour de France. The latest mighty ruler over the sport is this year’s winner Alberto Contador of Spain, who overcame Andy Schleck to take his third Tour in four years – and his third in three tries.
Though Contador managed to sport the yellow jersey from Stage 15, it was hardly easy going for the back-to-back champion. In Stage 3, Contador went down among the peloton in crash that would remove Frank Schleck from the competition altogether and set back the Spanaird’s chances for some time.
But Contador had been there before and he slowly chipped away at Andy Schleck’s lead, which the youth rider had regained in Stage 9. Stage 15 was key in the 2010 Tour de France and in fact Contador invited controversy when he forewent certain unwritten rules of sportsmanship to blow past Schleck as the chain on Schleck’s bike fell out. Though Contador apologized after the race, some former cyclists including Miguel Indurain came to his defense.
Schleck would fight back and take Stage 17, but since Contador finished mere seconds behind in the stage, it made little difference. At the end of Stage 19, Contador had built up a lead of 39 seconds and held that difference through Stage 20 for his second consecutive Tour de France win.
Contador now joins recent superstars such as Greg LeMond (Tour de France winner in 1986, ’89 and ’90), Indurain (’91 through ’95) and Lance Armstrong (’99 through 2005). The next dynasty may be Schleck’s, as the 25-year-old Luxembourger has now won three straight youth rider titles on the Tour de France.
In terms of odds, the bookmakers were again prescient, as the 4/7 odds on Contador held against Paddy Power’s proposition bet offering a 5/4 line on “the field.” In 19th place, John Gadret ended up the top Frenchman, a surprise to bookmakers who had him at 15/2 odds to be the tops from France in the race.
Would you believe that, with the 2010 World Cup, Wimbledon and Major League Baseball all in full swing, one of the most popular wagers on the Internet was on a grass-court tennis tournament in Rhode Island?
Neither does the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), an independent investigative body, which has ordered an investigation into a match between Richard Bloomfield of Britain and Belgium’s Chistophe Rochus in which $1.5 million was wagered on Bloomfield at Betfair online sportsbook. Betfair reported the irregular activity to the TIU and is expected to hand over information on the specific bets made on Bloomfield.
Bloomfield began the Newport Hall of Fame grass-court tournament ranked no. 552 in the world, while Rochus was at no. 160. Bloomfield was getting odds of 1:1 to win the best-of-three set match the day before, but just hours before first serve, those odds had shrunk to 1:4. After taking the first set and live odds betting continuing to roll in, Bloomfield had odds of 1:8 on him.
Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin later explained to Associated Press reporters that “If people are willing to risk £4 pounds to win £1, that is indicative of a substantial gamble.”
No official word has been released on how much the “lucky” punters who backed Bloomfield won from Betfair, but estimates say it’s $600,000 minimum.
Bloomfield won the contest in two sets and is not suspected of any wrongdoing, despite a 2006 investigation in a similar situation – he won that match, too. “I don’t know what to say,” said Bloomfield. “I know England’s a big betting nation. It seems like every time I win a decent match, [controversy] comes up.”
One serious longshot and one dark horse remain among the 2010 World Cup final four, and if one of these two wins a few lucky punters will get some nice returns indeed. Even if the more highly regarded Holland or Spain hoists the Cup for the first time, though, the results will still be nice indeed for some.
Anyone with foresight enough to have bet on Germany at the start of the tournament is feeling pretty good right now. Now the hottest team left, BetUS was typical and offered a line of 14/1 on the Germans to win this thing – and eight goals in the past two games say they’ve got a shot. A $20 bet at BetUS Sportsbook in June could be worth a cool $280 on Monday.
Uruguay is the other surprise remaining in World Cup betting. Not only would a Uruguay victory in the championship represent the biggest upset ever, a mere $20 bet placed at Ladbrokes in early June will be worth a crazy $2,500.
As said before, either Holland or Spain will pay well in what was a fairly open tournament from the go with no true consensus favorite: Just last week, Netherlands was still getting 15/2 odds at BroburySports. Those doing their World Cup football betting at Bodog would have gotten 5/1 on Spain through most of the tournament.
Whoever wins the 2010 World Cup, two things are certain: This has been a great one, and some clever punters are going to be very happy with their sports betting expertise.
For full reviews and detailed information visit our 2010 FIFA world cup betting odds section
The bitter fruit of soccer governing body UEFA’s labor is blooming in a Europe-wide probe across 12 countries to determine to what extent matches are being fixed for gambling purposes. It appears impossible to say whether UEFA’s efforts will or even can succeed before the 2010 World Cup kicks off in South Africa on June 11.
Sydney Morning Herald: Nine Swiss footballers suspended
Switzerland’s national soccer association has suspended nine players, including five for an indefinite period, for match-fixing as part of the Europe-wide UEFA probe.
The national league board said in a statement that “The Swiss Football Association is, according to current information, the first and only federation which has treated in the consequent manner the suspects of match-fixing made public in autumn 2009.”
None of the nine players suspended were in the top division of Switzerland football. The four players given sentences were banned from Swiss soccer for between 12 and 36 months.
The suspensions were the result of 50 raids in November in Austria, Britain, Germany and Switzerland in the probe’s first big move. In these 50 actions, over €1 million was seized. UEFA official stated that “Without doubt this is the biggest scam there has ever been in European football.”
Sports Illustrated: UEFA quizzes players at Hungarian champion Debrecen over suspected match-fixing
UEFA officials recently questioned eight players of Hungarian league champion Debrecen, which lost all six of its Champions League matches to Fiorentina, Liverpool and Lyon in the 2009-10 season, for which the club earned €9.2 million.
Though UEFA offered no comment as to the extent or subject matter of the discussion, Debrecen official Csaba Bartha did not make much of it, writing on the official club website that “the degree of seriousness of the matter is reflected by the fact that they didn’t even [transcribe] the statements.”
Debrecen is the second Hungarian club to come into question in this particular investigation, after UEFA looked into a suspicious Honvéd loss in November. More than 200 games are being considered for the possibility of match fixing in the UEFA investigation.
USA Today: World Cup arrives amid global match-fixing probes
Referees in Bosnia and Ukraine have been banned for life as part of a UEFA probe in a season when fixing matches has “spread more widely through football than ever.” UEFA President Michel Platini described the situation as seriously enough to put the sport itself in “mortal danger.”
Another threat to the integrity of soccer has arisen aside from the existing match-fixing problems has appeared as well. English Football Association chairman David Triesman stated that Russian criminal elements would be attempting to bribe referees to favor Spain in exchange for Spain’s support of the Russian bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
To prevent scandal from tainting the 2010 World Cup, FIFA officials created the company Early Warning, which would monitor any suspicious activity online concerning match outcomes. The World Cup is expected to generate about $3.4 billion for FIFA.
China is also taking on corruption in soccer at home, arresting among others Chinese Football Federation head Nan York and former World Cup referee Lu Jun.
The UEFA probe first began last year, when a “nest of corruption” was revealed to have involved matches in four World Cup nations (Germany, Greece, Slovenia, Switzerland) and six others (Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary and Turkey).
Due in part to the recent economic downturn, but also to bad weather across the UK this winter, Ladbrokes has seen first quarter profits at its high street betting shops down several percent. Online, however, things are looking promising, especially after the group cut costs by moving its online operations to Gibraltar.
Telegraph: Ladbrokes revenue dips as cautious punters stake less cash
Ladbrokes last week revealed that revenue has slipped 6% year on year, with a 10% drop in the amount of money staked by customers.
The sportsbook said that over-the-counter revenue at its land-based betting shops saw a huge drop in January due to bad weather, falling a full 17%. In the months following, trends slowly improved with April revenue down only 7%.
Sports betting is often considered to be a recession-proof businesses, but many struggled during the recent economic downturn. The latest updates from other high street bookmakers like Paddy Power and William Hill have fortunately been more promising.
Ladbrokes’ new chief executive Richard Glynn said the current economic climate is still “challenging” and UK consumers are not as confident in their spending as they were a few years ago.
Despite this recent drop in revenues, Ladbrokes saw operating profits rice 3pc in the first quarter of 2010, thanks in large part to the group’s move to the tax haven of Gibraltar last year.
Ladbrokes finance director Brian Wallace said he has plans to save the company around £8m a year.
Guardian: Ladbrokes shares slip as punters stay away
UK bookmakers have been struggling more than expected during the recent economic slump recession, but the latest reports from William Hill and Paddy Power are showing signs of picking up. Ladbrokes, however, said last week that numbers are dropping in their books, with the amount of bets placed in its high street shops continuing to decline.
First quarter net revenue at Ladbrokes has fallen 6%, with UK retail revenue down 11%. Over the counter revenue dropped by 10%. Its online sports betting business is also seeing a slump, mostly due to unexpectedly poor performance from their poker and casino offerings.
Newly appointed Ladbrokes chief executive Richard Glyn said, “The economic environment remains challenging and the strength of UK consumer confidence post the election is difficult to gauge. However group profitability year to date has been broadly in line with expectations.”
Irish Times: Operating profit rises at Ladbrokes
UK bookmaker Ladbrokes reported a 3% rise in four-month operating profits, thanks to its recent strategy of moving its online sports betting headquarters to the gambling tax haven of Gibraltar.
The move introduced several expense reductions which have helped to offset a recent drop in revenue at Ladbrokes’ UK betting shops, which is down 6% over the last four months.
The company also revealed that their net debt had fallen by £179 million, thanks to a £515 million settlement it recently received from a tax dispute.
Ladbrokes’ latest strategy is to bring more attention to its online sportsbook, to make up for the drop in sales at its land-based betting shops. After moving their online betting unit to Gibraltar last year, the company expects to save about £8 million annually.
A Las Vegas based company called Cantor Gaming recently introduced a mobile gambling device that lets patrons of participating casinos wager on sporting events and play games like blackjack and baccarat while wandering around the casino property. Credits are purchased ahead of time, and a special security chip that players keep in their pocket makes sure no other users can access their device. It is quickly catching on, and Cantor hopes to expand the system throughout Vegas over the next few years.
The New York Times: In Las Vegas, Sports Books in a Pocket
In the past, sports bettors in Las Vegas had to line up at sports book windows and pay cash for paper tickets in order to place bets. At the M Resort, things work a little differently, and betting is happening through hand-held devices not much bigger than an iPhone.
The new technology comes from Cantor Gaming, and lets gamblers wager on sporting events from anywhere in the casino. Live betting is also available, letting gamblers wager on the outcomes of events as they happen.
Casino operators love the new system. “All of a sudden, these same people who were betting once or twice a game at the beginning of a sporting event can place wagers every minute if they want,” says Anthony A. Marnell III, chief executive of the M Resort. “Having this technology changes the entire equation for everyone involved.”
Bettors must still hand cash over to ticket writers, but the money gets converted electronic credits that show up on the wireless hand-helds, called eDecks (or in some places, PocketCasino). These devices can be taken almost anywhere in the casino. The only restriction is that bettors cannot use them while playing table games.
All eDeck users must obtain a plastic card with an ID chip embedded in it. The eDeck will only work within a few feet of that chip, so no other bettor can pick up the device and wager on another user’s account. The devices were approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission in 2008, but are only now being rolled out to casinos.
Vegas News: Cantor Gaming Launches Mobile Gaming Throughout The Venetian and The Palazzo
Cantor Gaming announced yesterday that the PocketCasino, available at The Venetian and The Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas, is now offering casino games in addition to live sports betting. The PocketCasino lets gamblers play casino style games in most areas of the resorts, including the casino, bars, lounges and restaurants.
Cantor Gaming launched the PocketCasino sports betting system in September at The Venetian Race and Sports Book and Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo. PocketCasino now also gives players access to games such like blackjack, video poker and slots. These games offer special propositional bets that calculate odds dynamically based on the cards dealt.
President and CEO of Cantor Gaming Lee Amaitis said, “The inherent flexibility of the mobile platform provides a new type of social gaming experience, where a group of friends can sit together yet all be playing different games: blackjack, poker, slots or baccarat. And for casino operators, mobile gaming has shown it can convert traditionally non-gaming areas of the property into revenue-generating areas, resulting in incremental income for the property.”
Robert Goldstein, president and COO of The Venetian and The Palazzo, added, “Pocketcasino gaming is the perfect way to enjoy the excitement of casino without missing the fun your friends are having at the bar, lounge, or in one of our amazing restaurants. It’s a multitasker’s dream come true.”
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Sports bets at your fingertips
A live, mobile betting system called “PocketCasino” recently debuted at The Palazzo and The Venetian casinos in Las Vegas. It lets bettors place live wagers on sport events, like whether a team will make the next goal. Standard bets are also offered, like point spreads and money lines on selected games.
Las Vegas-based Cantor Gaming introduced it in the spring at M Resort during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Gregg Layman, a Palazzo patron from Panama, works for an online gambling website. Palazzo found the PocketCasino system to be similar to what online sportsbooks are offer.
“This is going to grow in popularity,” Layman said. “I wish I could use it from home.”
Another casino patron, Danny Tubiolo of New York, is hooked on the new system. “It’s fun to bet if a kicker will make or miss a field goal,” he said.
Mark Goldman, director of race and sports at the two casinos currently offering the PocketCasino, said that interest in the product is steadily increasing. “We have ambassadors working the room, handing out information,” says Goldman. “Once people understand it, it’s pretty easy to use. I think it adds to the excitement.”
Customers check out the devices, place money on a special account. When finished, gamblers return the device and cash out. The device is active throughout the casino.
Cantor is the first company to bring hand-held wagering devices into Las Vegas casinos.