Not long ago, the CEO of one of the worlds largest bookmakers called us criminals on prime time national TV.

That’s when we knew we had a good product.

Lasse Dilschmann, Nordic CEO Ladbrokes

Our supposed crime was to launch our software product RebelBetting. It’s a tool that lets you bet on sports and make a profit no matter the outcome of the match. This can be done if you can find two or more particularly high odds on the same match, called a sports arbitrage. This effectively turns sports betting into a way of investing your money, with regular profits above 10% per month.

Bookmakers that are good at estimating odds welcome arbitrage traders because they more often than not win their bets — while bookmakers that are bad at determining odds lose money to our users. This is why we pissed off Ladbrokes!

The Robin Hood of the sports betting industry

The Robin Hood of the sports betting industry

One of our customers jokingly compared us to Robin Hood. Stealing from the rich bookmakers and giving to the poor gamblers.

I don’t know if that’s true (some of our users are pretty wealthy), but this particular Ladbrokes CEO definitely considered us outlaws. In his mind we were stealing from them. (Even if we’re just betting on their publicly available odds). The irony is that by that logic the bookmakers are stealing too, and on an extreme scale. You see, any bet placed with RebelBetting “steals” a few percentages from the bookmaker, and gives it to the person placing the bet. The bookmakers on the other hand, steal a few percentages from their customers on every bet.

These percentages are called juice (or vigorish), and ensures that the bookmaker makes money on their wagers regardless of the outcome. Sound familiar? It’s the same principle as sports arbitrage betting, only in the favor of the bookmaker. The same concept is used in the casinos to give the house an advantage, or in poker (called rake). The juice is usually around 4-8% depending on bookmaker, and this means huge profits every year. Ladbrokes made a profit of £257 million (around $400 million) in 2008. Getting upset about the very few arbitrage traders seem pretty ridiculous in comparison to those numbers.

The juice makes it virtually impossible to beat the bookmaker at their own game, and all gamblers (except the absolute best) will always lose money in the long run. This is something most people are aware of. The bookmakers are running a business after all, and without rigging the game in their favor they would go bankrupt pretty soon. What most people don’t know is that the bookmakers have another advantage that is anything but fair.

Welcome to gamble with us! But if you win, we kick you out!

The fact is that the very small number of expert players that actually manage to make a profit are kicked out from most bookmakers, and banned for life. Not many outside the industry knows this secret, and most regular players never make enough profit to experience it. One could compare their methods to the mob-run casinos in Las Vegas in the 70s, except that the online bookmakers can’t escort you to the basement and give you a beating before they throw you out. The motto of most bookmaker seem to be: “Welcome to gamble at our place! But if you win – we kick you out!”

So the bookmakers don’t think it’s enough with their rigged game and their juice, they also feel the need to kick out the few professional gamblers that actually manages to beat their unfair game. And then they call us criminals, for betting on the odds they present!

This pisses us off, and that’s why we built RebelBetting.

We beat the bookmakers on their own game by pitting them against each other. That’s why our users always win, and that’s why we call ourselves Rebels.

Click here and read more about RebelBetting!
Click here for more information about RebelBetting!

More information

Thankfully, there are exceptions among the bookmakers. Reputed bookmakers such as Pinnacle Sports are famous for never limiting or kicking out winning players, and still having one of the highest payout percentages in the industry. Their systems learn from these experts, automatically detect changes in the market and constantly makes small adjustments to their odds.

Juice/vigorish explained in more detail on Wikipedia.

Simon Renstrom CEO RebelBetting

RebelBetting is being developed by ClaroBet AB, a small startup company in the far north of Sweden. Founded by two professional poker players and two programmers in 2008.

30 November 2010

One response on “Why Ladbrokes called us Criminals on TV

  1. Joel says:

    Great article! ;-)

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