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Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Philip W.S. Newall, Lukasz Walasek, Rebecca Vázquez Kiesel, Elliot A. Ludvig, and Caroline Meyer


Background and aims

Request-a-bet services are a modern gambling product delivered via the social network Twitter, which allow sports bettors to design custom bets. The public nature of Twitter data provided a unique opportunity to investigate patterns of bettor preference and the bookmaker profit margin in soccer, the UK’s favorite sport.


Two multi-method studies. Twitter users’ engagement with request-a-bet services was monitored unobtrusively (n = 1,406), meaning that potential patterns across users’ requests could be observed, and the bookmaker profit margin could be estimated. Twitter users were also surveyed directly (n = 55), providing self-report measures of request-a-bet usage.


Twitter users requested bets with an average potential payoff of £56.5 per £1 risked (median = £9). Overall, 9.7% of requested bets paid-off, but these were mostly bets at short odds. This meant that requests yielded a high bookmaker profit margin of 43.7% (roughly eight times higher than current margins in conventional soccer bets), which increased to 74.6% for bets at longer odds. Requested bets also tended to involve star players from the best teams. Finally, 92.7% of surveyed Twitter users reported placing at least one bet via request-a-bet services (mean = 44.4 bets).

Discussion and conclusions

Researchers can use request-a-bet products to increase their understanding of sports betting behavior. Sports bettors should be given information about how much higher the bookmaker profit margin can be in modern sports bets compared to the conventional sports bets that they may be more familiar with.

Open access