Do Bookmakers Collude?

collusion dictionary close upFor bettors, there is always a tendency to think that things are stacked against them. In reality, most times they actually are. After all, bookmakers are set up in such a way that they are able to build an Edge into the bets that they offer people in order to all but guarantee themselves a profit regardless of the outcome of an event. Not only that, but if you do manage to gain some level of success then some bookies will move quickly to either limit your account or else to close it down altogether, which doesn’t seem fair to anyone.

Part of this in-built paranoia around bookmakers involves some people believing that the companies involve collude with each other from time to time. In truth, there is no way of proving this one way or another. Bookies will obviously deny that they do any sort of thing along those lines, but that doesn’t actually prove anything.

Collusion is something that we’ve seen play out from time to time in other big businesses, so it isn’t exactly all that surprising that some would believe that betting companies would be involved in just such an activity some of the time.

The very fact that we know have super groups like Entain (Coral, Ladbrokes, etc.) and Flutter (Paddy Power, Sky Bet, Betair) means that information on you is certainly shared within that group.  That is within one company so doesn’t amount to collusion, although, there is no doubt these companies monopolise the industry enough that they can certainly limit competition.

What Is Collusion?

collusion written on notepad under magnifying glassFirst things first, it is important to outline what it is that we’re referring to when we talk about collusion. This is a secret agreement between parties in order to limit the open competition that would take place otherwise. They do this in a deceitful, misleading way that often involves defrauding other people.

Though it isn’t always illegal, the objectives that are achieved care of the collusion will often be forbidden by law, meaning that it is essentially an illegal action. The problem is, proving any sort of collusion isn’t something that is easily done by the wronged parties.

If rival companies choose to cooperate with each other for the purposes of their mutual benefit, that is collusion. There are numerous ways that this can manifest itself, including the notion suppressing competition amongst sellers in order to limit the need to end up driving down prices.

In the case of bookies, this would manifest itself in them agreeing to offer the same odds as each other for a market, rather than competing in order to offer lower odds and therefore give bettors choice in who to place their bets with. Instead, all odds will be the same.

Examples Of Collusion

haagen dazs shop signThere are several examples of collusion that we’ve seen play out over the years. In 2014, for example, Apple and Google agreed to settle an anti-trust lawsuit that revealed that the companies had colluded in order to avoid poaching each other’s staff.

In other words, they agreed with each other that they wouldn’t poach staff from one another, as well as from companies like Adobe and Intel, so that staff couldn’t use the promise of an offer from another major companies in order to drive up their pay offer with the company that they already worked for.

Another example comes in the form of Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s agreeing to produce different forms of ice cream to one another. It was decided that Häagen-Dazs would make smooth ice cream and not make any with big chunks in it, whilst Ben & Jerry’s would make chunky ice cream and stay away from smooth variations.

This meant that they could both charge more money for their product, knowing that there was no competition within the market from a major manufacturer with a well established global reputation, ensuring that they would both make more money as a result of the agreement.

Collusion In Bookmaking

men talking secretly collusionThe reality of the world of bookmaking is such that it is all but impossible to tell whether or not there is any form of collusion taking place behind the scenes. Bookies tend to react to the odds offered by others within the market, which is done in order to ensure that they are able to remain competitive.

If one bookmaker has odds of 3/1 for Manchester United to win the Premier League and most of the other similarly sized bookies are offering 3/2, they will assume that they have made a mistake and adjust their odds to fit in with everyone else.

Just because they have changed their odds doesn’t mean that there is collusion going on between them and other companies. It could just mean that they feel they’ve made a mistake and have acted accordingly. The problem is, the same would also happen if the companies involved had chosen to collude with one another, which is what makes it such a difficult thing to figure out for certain. There is also an argument that you are responsible for either taking or not taking odds offered, so it doesn’t really matter whether they collude or not.

Fewer Independents Make It More Likely

ladbrokes shopThose that know about the betting market know that there are now fewer and fewer independent bookmakers than ever before. If a company becomes successful, the likelihood is that one of the bigger and more established betting companies will come in to buy it and add it to their portfolio. In other words, one parent company will own a wealth of smaller companies that are operated as their own betting site or shop, all whilst actually belonging to a bigger gambling family that is under the same umbrella of ownership.

There are numerous examples of this in the real world, such as Paddy Power and Betfair both being owned by Flutter Entertainment, or Entain being the parent company of both Ladbrokes and Coral. The fact that there owned by the same parent company doesn’t automatically mean that collusion between them is all but guaranteed, but it does make it more likely that there will be some form of communicating in order to ensure that the overall company that owns them both is making as much money as possible. It is also an argument that if they’re owned by the same company, it isn’t even collusion.