When most Eurovision fans post screenshots of Eurovision odds today, they are checking them against the odds page of eurovisionworld.com.
This is a brilliant resource, and one I use too. I’m old enough to remember the times when the only equivalent was oddschecker.com, which was infuriating for a few reasons. As a site for all odds comparison, it lists a whole bunch of bookmakers who didn’t offer Eurovision odds, which results in many empty columns on the screen. Furthermore finding Eurovision odds can be a chore, navigating through multiple menu options to find Eurovision buried alongside other special betting events like politics, weather and even WWE matches.
And finally oddschecker focuses on the British market. Living abroad some of the same high street bookmakers are available where I am but far from the same selection. Being based in Stockholm gives me access to bookies such as Betsson and CoolBet which work in Scandinavia and the Baltics and offer on occasions better value and more diverse markets.
The way eurovisionworld.com presents odds makes it so much easier for the Eurovision community to follow. The team on that site ensure that only the bookmakers offering odds on each event are visible, and the team actively take odds from a variety of different sources from different countries, listing it all in a very clear and usable interface. From me and from many other Eurovision fans and gamblers. Thank you.
Arguably though this amazing interface is too usable, too clear for fans to understand, and it results in fans incorrectly interpreting the Eurovision betting situation. My reason for wanting to write this piece is to outline the ways the Eurovision community misunderstands how eurovisionworld.com’s tracker operates, and from that make those missteps in understanding the market.
The first thing many fans look at is the % win chance. This can be a fair measure to use for those who aren’t literate to how odds work, but it is a poor measure for those who actually gamble. For example if we look at the odds on the day of the Eurovision Final for 2023, this % tracker has Loreen’s win chances at 50%. Yet the best odds you are getting just before kick off on Loreen were 1.67. Odds of 1.67 mean that if you were to place £100 on Loreen winning, you would receive £167 in return. Odds at 50% would be 2.00, and would return £200 for a £100 stake. Needless to say, that difference is huge to a gambler.
We as gamblers will always be looking for the actual odds and calcuate the % likelihood from that, rather than these conglomerate odds and the percentage it creates, when working out if a bet is a good bet to place.
There is often a significant difference between the two values for obvious reasons. Remember of course that bookmakers will of course be taking a certain % profit from each book they create, so need to write a margin in for themselves. In a perfectly fair world where bookmakers weren't taking their slice of the pie, the 50% figure would be an accurate one. Instead gamblers must look at that 60% figure, in this Sweden to win at odds of 1.67, and determine if the likelihood of Sweden winning was more than 60% or not.
In hindsight, that was great value on the day of the final last year.
Another reason that these percentages are somewhat misleading is because they are calculated through taking a conglomerate ranking from all of the bookmakers odds together. As somebody who has been following the markets for many years, I know that many of these odds are far slower than the Eurovision community to act.
The majority of people setting odds for Eurovision from the different high street betting companies are not specific Eurovision experts. They are not following every national final release nor every national final live. I recall going around the bookmakers the moment Cornelia Jakobs won a neck-and-neck Melfest with Anders Bagge. Sweden's odds should have been shorter than the 12-1 I got at the time, but the risk that Anders' would win Melfest (he would have certainly been triple figures to win Eurovision if selected) mitigated that somewhat. Those each way bets I placed at that very moment were the best value for each way we got for the rest of the season. Now a bookmaker could be watching a national final and could adjust their odds accordingly depending on the outcome, but that does not happen.
Because of this 'unreactiveness' the market can appear to lag compared to what we already know. When a good competitive song is released and lots of money is placed on it to win, the bookmakers and their algorithms will likely cut those odds very fast, occasionally within minutes if demand is high enough (think when San Marino announced Flo Rida with the microstate still at 200-1 in places). Remember here that the bookies odds are rarely adjusted based on Eurovision news being revealed (one exception to this would be Olly Alexander becoming Eurovision favourite this year, as his annoucement was on Strictly which is also a big gambling event bookmakers would be covering live). Instead odds will move at the bookmakers almost always because more money is placed with them.
However, on the flip side of things, if a country doesn’t announce a top-of-the-scoreboard smash and instead is a non-contender, the bookmakers don’t adjust their odds quickly. This is because with the bookmakers one can only place bets on outcomes in favour of a song winning Eurovision. You can’t bet against on the high street, unlike what you can on the Betfair Exchange. I recall Gustaph’s shock victory in Belgium last year saw the nation drift out from 70s to 500s in seconds. Bookmakers could never make such a move, and it took weeks until Belgium's price to win Eurovision slowly ended up anywhere close to that level with some providers.
And this year’s table shows that. Israel are still named as bookmakers favourites at the moment with some of the high street bookmakers despite at time of writing being around 30-1 on the Exchange. France was around 20-1 when Slimane was announced but since then, while the Exchanges have drifted, the bookmakers haven’t moved a muscle. Remember also that this is also crazy early in the Eurovision season and there is a relatively small amount of money in the market and the moves that do happen are small and are based on much less money being put in than otherwise.
The final issue with Eurovision World’s tracker being taken as gospel is this issue with the small amount of money in the early season market. Eurovision World only tracks the back price, the odds one can gamble at, via this peer-to-peer platform. Because it is a peer-to-peer platform, not all odds are available and/or it can be the case that nobody is laying any money at that time on a certain outcome. This can make the odds of something happening appear very short because there is no money in the market, rather than an accurate representation of likelihoods. This occurred in the early weeks of Norway’s MGP last year, where Alessandra was listed as favourite to win weeks before ‘Queen of Kings’ went viral (we wrote about that situation then)
Our advice to readers is simple. If you are in search of a realistic snapshot of what the Eurovision market is at any point, there is no perfect solution. While it is also flawed because it depends on money being left on the Betfair Exchange, our best advice would be to look at the lowest lay odds available at any time on the Betfair Exchange.
These odds represent the price where, in theory, no fellow gambler wishes to risk their money on that outcome not happening. This will be a more accurate snapshot reflection of the position of each act on the rollercoaster ride of Eurovision season we are as we continue on its journey.