So many people in the UK engage in sports betting. For some, it’s a fun pastime. Why not put a couple of quid on your favourite football team, after all? But others want to push it further. They want to make a living from sports betting.
But is that possible?
The billionaire bettor
When people think about getting rich from sports betting, one name usually comes to mind. That name, of course, is Billy Walters. But perhaps you’ve never heard of him. Unless you’re investing in betting news (or, perhaps, real estate), it’s possible his name has never come up on your radar. (It’s probably worth noting that he likes to stay under everyone’s radar. He’s an out-of-the-spotlight kind of guy, so don’t feel too bad about never having heard of him.) After all, there are now so many billionaires around that we can’t be expected to know all of their names these days, can we?
Yep, you just read that right: billionaire. Billy Walters’ riches runs into the ten figures. But don’t look too much into that if we’re talking about pure sports betting. Because there are definitely some things you need to keep in mind if we want to talk about Billy Walters and his sports gambling.
The story of Billy Walters
Billy Walters has one of those rags to riches stories that many of the rich wish they could have. (They can feel less guilty about having so much amongst people who have so little if they started out “just like them”!) As he tells it, he was born in southern Kentucky to a poor teenage mother. He was raised by his grandmother until she died when he was twelve. He started gambling at a young age. One source says he was as young as five when he began, though if that’s true then I’m guessing it wasn’t very high-stakes.
Later in life, he became a car dealer, and he earned hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. But he also had a gambling problem. (Not surprising if he started out when he was five, I guess?) Most of his profits were basically thrown away into the black hole called “bad bets”. He says that, before he was around 35, his gambling reduced him to “scraping by” status, despite a good salary.
But this tale doesn’t end the way that most of these tales do. You’re either supposed to quit gambling and be on the road to recovery, or you’re supposed to gamble yourself to poverty, right? Well, Billy Walters actually managed to turn his habit into a career. He’s nearly seventy now, and is still gambling. Oddly enough, his luck changed when he visited the place that should, really, have been his downfall – Las Vegas. There, he learned how to identify weaknesses in certain roulette wheel systems. He went down to the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City in 1986. There, he saw a killer flaw in one of their roulette games. He went on a massive gambling spree using this game – and ended up netting millions.
He would parlay those millions in the biggest sporting bets the world has ever seen. The money he put down on certain outcomes were so big that bookies would have to alter the way they allowed bets for given games. Billy Walters is now a billionaire, earning between $70-100 million a year. About 20% of that income comes directly from massive sports bets.
The catch: understanding the need for capital
Notice how little I mentioned sports betting in that story? That’s because you really need to understand how skewed the story about Billy Walters can be. He’s often touted as the “billionaire sports bettor”. People who love gambling on sports look at him and think “If he could do it, I can do it, too!” He’s the example that proves that “it’s possible”.
But note how late into the story the successful sports betting occurs. It’s after he’s already won millions of dollars. It was estimated that he walked out of that Atlantic City casino with just shy of $4 million dollars. With inflation taken into consideration, that could be anywhere between £7 million and £10 million today. It’s often said that you have to spend money to make money. Billy Walters made his money (and relative fame) from sports betting. But believe me when I said that he had the money to spend in order for that to happen.
The thing you should understand here is that in order to make a living by betting on sports, you would need to approach it like a business. And what’s the one thing you need when it comes to starting up a business that will make you rich in the future? (You know, apart from a killer invention, product, or service.) That’s right: capital. Usually, you need a lot of it. Successful sports gambling doesn’t just end with a lot of money. More often than not, it begins with a lot of money.
Sprint or marathon?
A lot of people see gambling as a get-rich-quick scheme. Of course, when I say that, I’m talking about someone going from zero to hero in a matter of minutes. That person may have been betting for years before they hit the jackpot. But when they hit the jackpot, oh boy! You don’t just get small winnings. You get a big, fat, juicy paycheck all in one go.
Well, this isn’t a great way of looking at it. Here, we’re going to go back to Billy Walters as an example. When he made his riches, he started putting hundreds of thousands of dollars on individual sports bets. It’s important to understand that this didn’t mean that a win would make him millions on the spot. In the first few years, he made plenty of bets that didn’t even make a 20% profit. But there was some profit.
If we look at these early winnings, we see tens of thousands of dollars being won in a given bet. That is a lot, of course. But let’s think about this in a relative way. Relative to the amount that he put down initially, it actually wasn’t that big a win. But it was a win. He didn’t go from $4 million to a billion in just a few years. It took him a very long time to even get that $4 million to double.
You shouldn’t be looking for overnight millions. Successful sports gambling, if we’re talking about it as a prolonged activity, isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. You have to pace yourself. You have to be able to go the distance by expending only what will get you by in a given moment. Because whatever age you begin at, you’re still going to have a long way to go.
Understanding the bookmaking game
So let’s stop talking about Billy Walters for a moment and bring this whole thing back to our home turf. In the UK, when we think about sports betting, we think about football. After all, the football betting industry is worth billions, and football bets make up an estimated 70% of all sports bets in the UK. If you don’t do any betting on football games yourself, I’m willing to bet (har har) that you know someone who does.
The betting industry is insanely profitable. But you should understand that bookmakers are also gamblers. A lot of people put down a big amount of Ladbrokes or William Hill and think that the whole thing is a one-way street. They forget that these betting outlets and making bets with you. They’re taking on a lot of risk. And, as such a profitable industry, they need to engage in strong risk mitigation.
One of the ways in which they do this is by “throttling”. Sounds violent, but let me explain. Basically, it’s very difficult to get filthy rich from mainstream betting outlets. Even if you put down a massive amount on low odds and end up winning? Well, you should understand that the transaction you made is subject to the house rules. More often than not, there will be an upper limit when it comes to the money you can win. This is what throttling is. If you’re making too big a profit, the betting outlet can (and, most likely, will) limit you or even close your account.
This is one of the reasons that this whole thing should be approached like a business. It’s one of the inherent risks to your investment – the money that you put down for the bet. It’s why companies like Tennis Tips exist. If you want gambling wins to help you make a living, then you need to be professional about it. You may even need expert help when it comes to maximizing what you can get from a betting outlet.
No easy answers
You may have expected this article to be a list of hot betting tips. Sorry if you’re disappointed! But there are plenty of articles out there that feature betting tips that will apparently make you rich. That was never the point of this article.
The point was to answer the question posed in the title. Of course, perhaps even here I’ve failed. There’s no sexy answer to such a question. The simplest way I can answer it is by saying “Yes, it is possible”. But if you want it to happen, you need to keep in mind everything in this article. You need to look at previous examples and keep a business mindset. Good luck!