Are There Any Sports Only Betting Sites?
The proliferation of online betting has been a good thing in many ways, including the fact that there are a wealth of markets for people to bet on that weren’t available before. The downside, though, is that some people only want to place wagers on specific topics but are enticed into other markets that they had no intention of using. The best example of this comes in the form of slots and games that are available on sportsbook websites.
It is little wonder that people are developing problems with their gambling when you consider that it is virtually impossible to logon to a betting account to place a wager without being bombarded with offers for an online casino, the opportunity to play bingo or the option to join live poker games. It begs the question, are there any sites that offer sports only, without all of the other betting options like a casino and a poker room?
The Current State Of Affairs
The second that you login to your betting account, you are presented with a wealth of different sports bets that you can place. It’s common for bookmakers to put events happening shortly on the main page of their site, meaning that you’ll often encounter horse racing that is moments from coming under starter’s orders. When you look for the section of the site that you actually want, you’ll see a wealth of other betting opportunities instead.
At the top of one site we visited, for example, there were tabs for Sports, Slots, Tables & Lives and Offers. It’s clear that the option to be able to spend a few quid on a slot machine or to get on a roulette table, for example, is there for everyone. Even when you look specifically at the Sports section you’ll still have the chance to bet In-Play, or place a wager on a host of sports that you know nothing about.
The current state of affairs is such that betting companies want to present themselves as one-stop-shops, largely because this will allow them to make money at the expense of their rivals. As a result, bookmakers want to ensure that they can entice people to bet on more than just one product, instead opting for countless different bets during a short time logged into their betting account.
Why It Has Become Like This
The sad reality of the betting industry is such that those that wish to bet small amounts of money on just one area of a betting site are not of much use to bookmakers. Instead, betting companies are hoping to attract people that are easily swayed, betting large amounts of money on numerous different parts of the website. It is the unspoken truth of gambling, but those that lack control over their wagering are best for the businesses.
Games are present on virtually every single betting site that you’ll find because they are easy to licence, relatively cheap to run and the responsibility for running them lies with the developers. This means that they are basically a cash cow for betting companies, resulting in their presence on sites being almost irresistible. If you’re happy to bet on one thing, you’re more likely to want to bet on something else, so why wouldn’t companies entice you to do so?
Are Sports Not Profitable Enough On Their Own?
Given the dependence of bookmakers on the likes of online casinos, poker and bingo, the obvious question that crops up is whether or not there is enough value in sports betting alone. The answer is a little more complex than a mere yes or no, however. For starters, the Gross Gambling Yield of the industry between April and September 2020 was £4 billion, if you exclude the £1.9 billion spent on the National Lottery.
It’s clear, then, that money spent on betting is still high. Of that £4 billion, £3.1 billion was spent on the remote betting, bingo and casino sector, which is otherwise known as the online market. When you compare that to the £629.3 million made on non-remote betting, the £92 million on non-remote bingo and the £67 million for non-remote casinos, you can see just how profitable the world of online betting is for companies.
Remote betting comprises 52.3% of the total market, with online casino games dominating the sector. £1.9 billion of the Gross Gambling Yield came from online casinos, the majority of which was thanks to slot machines. To give you some indication of how that compares to sports betting, around £1 billion is made from remote betting, with horse racing and football betting being the dominant sports that people wager on.
The Gross Gambling Yield from online bingo amounted to £98.1 million, showing that the money spent on online casinos far outweighs everything else that people might do online. On the one hand, therefore, a Gross Gambling Yield of £1 billion on sports bets isn’t exactly small potatoes, but when you can gain virtually double that by offering online casino games such as slots, you’d be a poorly-run company if you didn’t.
Casino Games Give Guaranteed Revenue
Bookmakers build margins into odds on sporting events that means on average they are usually guaranteed to make a profit. The fact that odds are based on real world events, though, means that there is a lot of variation. This variation means on occasion it is possible to find ‘weak lines’ that offer better odds than the real probabilities. Savvy bettors often back these lines and can make a profit in the longer term doing this. Likewise discrepancies in odds between companies means that some punters can back alternate outcomes with different bookies to guarantee a profit.
Therefore, while most sports bettors lose in the long run there is a proportion that utilise the variation in odds to make money from bookies. The same is not true for casino games, however.
With a casino or slot game the odds are fixed, meaning the betting company knows that over time they are absolutely guaranteed a stable profit. Yes, people do win more than they stake on occasion but in the longer term the fact the odds are stacked against you means you are likely to lose more than you win. This is exactly why betting sites like to push users towards these games.
If It Makes Money, Companies Will Offer It
We might wish to live in a world where companies care about the greater good, but that’s not the world that we actually live in. Instead, gambling companies are going to be concerned by their bottom line first and foremost, so they will offer whatever service it is that people wish to take them up on. It is clear from the statistics on Gross Gambling Yields that what people want to do more than anything else is play casino games.
As soon as it became clear to online betting companies that people wanted to spend their money on slots and other such casino games, those companies were obviously going to go big on offering them across the board. White label sites, which are essentially carbon copies of each other with different branding, moved quickly to ensure that they could offer plenty of slots to the companies that were using their services.
For betting companies, if something will make money then they will offer it. It’s why there was a proliferation of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals before the government moved to introduce a limit on the maximum stake that could be played on the machines. They were largely responsible for the profit that high street bookmakers made, so they crammed as many into their properties as they could in what was a real-world reflection of what happens with online slots.
Is There A Moral Question For Betting Companies?
By the start of October 2020, the number of problem gamblers in the United Kingdom had reached around 280,000. Of those, research by the National Gambling Treatment Service showed that only 3% got help with their addiction. That amounted to 9,008 problem gamblers that were able to receive assistant with their condition, leading some to wonder whether there is a moral question for betting companies to answer.
On the one hand, a free market means that betting companies are entitled to offer their services to everyone, with the punters themselves having to work to avoid falling foul of a problem with gambling. On the other, betting companies could introduce more ways of limiting how much people spend on their addiction without taking too much of a hit to their profit margin, so is it something that they should consider doing?
If betting companies were to completely remove online casinos from their sportsbook sites, they would still have a Gross Gambling Yield of in excess of £1 billion to share between them. Those that argue in the defence of gambling sites point out that many would simply turn to black markets to place their bets, should they be stopped from doing so via traditional means, which exposes them to more danger and less reputable companies.
Even so, with around 45% of those problem gamblers that received treatment having debts of more than £5,000, using a debt repayment scheme or simply being declared bankrupt, there is a feeling that betting companies could do more. Is it necessary for them to give such prominence to slot games, online casinos and bingo, for example? Or might they find a way of limiting how much they try to convince bettors to use such services?
Even exchange betting sites, which are predominantly aimed at customers that wish to take on other customers or act as the bookmaker themselves, offer slot games prominently on their site. Indeed, you can even play exchange games on some of the sites, meaning that it is almost impossible to escape the allure of the online slot. Companies will put them front and centre, so it depends on your own willpower as to whether or not you’ll play them.
What Can You Do To Help Yourself?
The truth is that it is extremely unlikely that betting companies will make any real moves to reduce the number of casino and slot games offered to punters on their websites. Until they are actively forced to do better thanks to government legislation on the issue, you will continue to see slots and online casinos put in prominent positions on gambling websites. In fairness to the companies concerned, why shouldn’t they do so with their biggest money-makers?
As a result, bettors will need to take matters into their own hands if they wish to avoid playing on slots or other such games when they login to their betting site of choice. Oscar Wilde once said, “I can resist everything except temptation,” so you might do well to remove temptation from your eye-line to see if that helps with your betting habits. One way of doing so is to restrict products you don’t wish to use.
This is obviously far from ideal and in many cases is more of a blunt instrument than a finely-tuned tool, but it is at least a way in which you can limit your own exposure to such products if you find yourself regularly using them. Websites that have a licence issued to them by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission will have a Responsible Gambling section, though it might be called something like ‘Safer Gambling’.
If you wish to take advantage of the services offered, you can head to this section of the site and look at the tools they have on offer. One such tool is the ability to self-exclude, either from the entire site or a particular product. If you feel as though you have good control over your sports betting but that it is the casino and slot products that you wish to banned from playing, you can choose to do exactly that.
The self-exclusion scheme will allow you to choose what it is that you wish to be self-excluded from, with three options presented to you by most casinos:
- All Products
- All Gaming
Obviously all products will result in you being unable to place a bet of any sort on your site of choice. All gaming, meanwhile, will block you from all gaming products offered by the company. This means you will be unable to place a bet on a casino game, their poker services, bingo and any other games that are promoted. You can choose whether to block yourself from six months to a year, two years, three years, four years, five years or permanently.
Again, this is not an ideal system, especially if you’re disciplined when it comes to your bingo play and simply want to stop being able to engage with slot machines, for example. Even so, it is at least something that you can do to limit your exposure to such games every time you login to your account. It might well be that the mere act of banning yourself will allow you to gain control over your betting habits, all being well.
The reality is that companies offering only sports betting without any casino games or slots simply aren’t profitable enough to satisfy the greed of their owners and shareholders. As a result, punters have to make their own decisions to block certain services. If you’re going to do as much, remember to block access on all bookmakers that you have accounts with, stopping yourself from being able to look somewhere else for your hit.