Should You Place Novelty And Special Bets?

man shruggingFor people who like a flutter, there are all sorts of bets that we can consider placing on a whole host of different topics. It isn’t outrageous to look at the likes of Each-Way bets on horse racing, say, or to spend time putting together an accumulator on a whole host of football matches.

Speak to some people and they will know all about the golf Majors because that is the sort of thing that they like and therefore know about in-depth. We understand such straightforward sports bets, with many of us placing them during our time as punters, wagering on what we know.

One of the things that we understand is that bookmakers will build their own profits into the bets that they offer. Because we know the subject matter, we’ll accept this because we want to win our bet and take money off them if we can.

What we don’t like is when bookies get carried away with the manipulation of the odds that they offer, but with something like a novelty bet it is a lot easier for them to do so. Realistically, we don’t really know what the chances are of a given actor becoming the next James Bond, so how do we know if the value is there in the odds offered? That’s the sort of thing we need to think about before placing a novelty bet.

The Allure Of Novelty Bets

daniel craig as james bond
Aashish950 at en.wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Novelty bets, by their very nature, tap into our innate curiosity and penchant for speculation. They invite us to ponder over events that are not traditionally associated with betting, injecting an element of unpredictability into the wagering experience.

There are numerous reasons why novelty bets have garnered such interest for punters over the years. For starters, the unpredictability aspect of novelty bets is what sets them apart from more traditional forms of wagering.

This characteristic can be attributed to several key factors, with a lack of historical data being high on the list. Novelty bets often involve events or outcomes that do not have a well-documented history. Unlike established sports like football or horse racing, where extensive statistical data is available for analysis for those of us willing to research what we’re betting on, novelty events may not have any precedent to refer to. This absence of historical data makes it challenging for bookmakers to establish accurate odds and for us to understand what we’re betting on.

Novelty bets tend to cover a wide spectrum of events that span across different domains, from entertainment and politics through to science and pop culture. This diversity means that each novelty bet is unique, with its own set of variables and uncertainties. For example, predicting the outcome of a reality TV show involves factors such as audience votes, contestant performances and viewer preferences, all of which can be highly unpredictable.

Unlike many traditional sports where outcomes are determined by objective measures like goals scored or race times, novelty bets often involve subjective judgments.

For instance, speculating on who the next actor to play James Bond will be relies heavily on the opinions and decisions of casting directors, producers and creative teams. These subjective factors introduce an element of uncertainty that is not present in more quantifiable events.

Many novelty bets are linked to emerging trends, pop culture or current events. These are areas that can be highly dynamic and subject to rapid change. For example, the desire from many quarters for there to be a black James Bond might well influence producers when it comes to thinking through their pick of the next 007.

Novelty events also often have a higher likelihood of unexpected developments. In the case of speculating on extra-terrestrial life, say, the discovery of new scientific evidence or a breakthrough in space exploration could significantly alter the probabilities and outcomes of such bets.

In many cases, individuals placing novelty bets may have limited access to reliable information or expertise regarding the event in question. This contrasts with more established sports, where enthusiasts may have access to comprehensive statistics, expert analyses and historical trends that can inform their wagers.

Cultural Relevance

tv iconThe cultural relevance of novelty bets plays a significant role in their popularity and appeal. These wagers often tap into current events, popular trends and widely followed aspects of culture, providing a unique opportunity for individuals to engage with, and speculate on, topics that resonate with a broad audience. After all, there is a reason why bookmakers tend to offer such wagers and we want to place them. Novelty bets frequently revolve around events or figures that are at the forefront of popular culture. This can end up taking many different forms.

Some of the most common novelty bet topics that people consider placing bets on is the likes of the outcome of a widely watched reality TV show, predicting the winner of a prominent talent competition or speculating on the next major blockbuster movie release. These events are not only widely followed, but also hold a special place in the collective consciousness of society.

Entertainment-driven novelty bets allow individuals to interact with their favourite shows, movies and celebrities on a deeper level. For example, predicting the winner of an award like the Oscars.

Cultural events often serve as conversation starters and points of connection among individuals. By participating in novelty bets related to these events, people can engage in discussions, debates and friendly competitions with friends, family and even a broader online community.

This shared experience fosters a sense of camaraderie and strengthens social bonds, which plays into the hands of bookmakers looking to get people placing wagers on the things that everyone is talking about. Some novelty bets extend beyond entertainment to encompass political and societal phenomena.

This could involve predicting the outcome of elections, referendums or other major political events. These bets provide an avenue for individuals to express their opinions and engage with important societal issues in a unique and interactive way.

If it is something that everyone is talking about, the chances are high that bookies will be offering you odds on it. Bookmakers want to tap into the social consciousness of their customers because they know that that will make them more likely to place a wager, which will give bookies a wider profit margin in the long-run.

What you will not find in terms of special bets is anything that could be considered immoral or capitalises on bad things happening to people or the world.  Novelty bets (placed legally) are strictly limited to things that do not cause harm.  For example, Paddy Power came in for criticism when they offered odds that Barrack Obama would not finish his first term as president, which many read as him being assassinated.  You can see for obvious reasons why you couldn’t bet on someone demise as that could entice you to enable that demise to win a bet.

The Problems With Novelty Bets

scales illustration with price and value on each sideWhilst novelty bets offer a unique and entertaining betting experience, they are not without their drawbacks. It is essential to approach these wagers with a discerning eye, as they present specific challenges that may not be present in more traditional betting markets. One of the big issues that bookmakers face are the pricing challenges associated with novelty bets, which stem from the unique nature of the events or outcomes being wagered on.

Unlike more traditional betting markets, novelty bets often lack established historical data, as mentioned, and clear benchmarks for determining odds.

In traditional sports betting, bookmakers have access to a wealth of historical data, including player statistics, team performance records and past match outcomes. This data serves as a foundation for setting odds. In contrast, many novelty bets involve events that either have no historical precedent or have a limited track record.

This absence of reliable data makes it difficult to assess the likelihood of various outcomes. These subjective factors introduce an additional layer of uncertainty, as individual preferences and decision-making processes may not follow predictable patterns.

There is also the sheer complexity of betting on non-standard events. Novelty bets can involve events with multiple possible outcomes and complex variables. For instance, bets related to the existence of extra-terrestrial life or predicting major scientific discoveries involve numerous unknown factors and uncertainties.

This complexity makes it challenging to assign precise odds. Novelty bets are, therefore, inherently difficult to price accurately. Unlike established sports events with their readily available statistics and data, these unconventional wagers often lack a clear basis for determining odds.

The result of this is much wider margins set by bookmakers, leading to lower expected returns for bettors or, at the very least, returns that don’t really match up with the reality of a situation. Given the fact that we haven’t yet had contact from aliens that is undeniable, the likelihood of it happening in the future is remote.

Yet the odds offered by bookmakers don’t come anywhere near that remoteness. We might be able to win a bet, but the true value of the bet is all but non-existence compared to the sort of payout that we should be offered by bookies.

Due to the unpredictable nature of novelty bets, the level of risk associated with them is typically higher compared to more conventional wagers. Punters are essentially venturing into uncharted territory, where unforeseen variables and unexpected outcomes can significantly impact the result.

Bookmakers also tend to impose lower maximum payout limits on novelty bets. This precautionary measure is implemented to mitigate the risk of individuals possessing inside knowledge or attempting to exploit potential vulnerabilities in these markets. In other words, even if you’re right you might not win that much.

The Potential For Manipulation

robber criminal dressed as a clown holding bag of cashPart of the reason why bookies offer such low maximum payout amounts on novelty bets, especially those related to entertainment or speculative events, is that they may be susceptible to manipulation.

Insiders or individuals with privileged information could potentially influence the outcome, which bookmakers are always wary of. Not all entertainment shows are broadcast live, for example, so any number of people in the audience or fellow contestants might know who wins before the public does. Bookies can’t take a chance over such a thing, so they need to protect themselves.

Similarly, the actor cast as the next James Bond will know that he’s got the role, as will his agent and anyone working in his agency. Add in his publicist and others and you suddenly have a situation where a large number of people know something that the wider public is unaware of.

Bookmakers are terrified of being taken advantage of in such a situation, so they adjust their odds and their offerings accordingly. Normal punters, who don’t have such insider information, suffer as a result. They are offered lower odds than the reality would really have them at, for example.

There are even novelty bets within sports such as football, for example betting on transfers.  In 2020 Kieran Tripper received a ban and a fine after he reported told friends about a transfer from Tottenham to Atletico Madrid before it had been officially annouced; allowing those friends to bet on it.

You Can Place Such Bets; Just Be Aware Of The Pitfalls

Bookie Customers AngryWhen it comes to answering the question ‘should you place novelty bets?’, the answer is that it is up to the individual. You can absolutely place whatever bets you want to, but it is important to be aware of the circumstances in which you are placing them.

Ultimately, the value of a market is dictated by whether you win or not. If you place a £100 bet on a 1000/1 offering and are successful, you’re probably going to be reasonably confident that you’ll feel you got good value from it even if the real odds were more like 10,000, simply because you won your bet.

Similarly, odds of 10,000/1 won’t seem like they have a huge amount of value attached to them if you end up on the losing end of the wager. You will know what to expect from your betting, but you can’t get too disappointed if the bet that you’ve placed doesn’t feel like a good one depending on the result.

Betting on novelty markets is always going to appeal to certain people, but the reality of whether you should do so or not will depend on your own personal circumstances. If you’re aware of all of the pitfalls and problems of such a bet but don’t care, you’re likely to place the bet regardless.

Ultimately, all you can hope for as a bettor is to place bets that you understand the value of. You can do all of the research in the world and spend hours pouring over data, but if you’re going to log on to your betting account and then place a bet on something like the killer of the modern day JR then you’re demonstrating that you’re not all that bothered about the value of your betting anyway.