Betting Syndicates Explained
While sports betting is fun, the indisputable truth remains that everyone wants to win. Punters increase their chances of long-term success through betting syndicates, an age-old concept that involves groups of bettors pulling their knowledge and resources together.
This guide covers everything about syndicates in the sports betting world. Here are some of the key points we will explore:
- How syndicates operate in sports betting
- How to set up a betting syndicate
- Legality status of syndicates
- Pros and cons
- The biggest syndicates in the history of betting
How Betting Syndicates Work
A betting syndicate is a group of individuals who combine their knowledge and resources to place bets. While this concept applies to all forms of wagering, including lotteries, it is most common in sports betting. By working together, members share their expertise to find the best betting opportunities and make more informed decisions to help them beat the bookmakers and achieve long-term success. Also, by pooling their funds together, sports betting syndicates can place larger bets at reduced risks.
A straightforward example of how syndicates work can be often seen in the lotteries, especially in the UK. Many colleagues, friends, and families often pool funds to purchase several tickets, with any winnings split evenly amongst members.
However, a syndicate in sports betting is more than just a group of individuals placing bets together as a collective.
It is a well-coordinated operation with much going into its planning and execution. So, let’s delve further into how these syndicates operate, from their formation to what they do.
Formation of Betting Syndicates
A syndicate is usually formed by like-minded individuals who share a common interest in gambling to guarantee and maximize profits. A sports betting syndicate can be created in a variety of ways. Some are made up of groups of friends, family members, or work colleagues who enjoy putting action on sports together. At the same time, other consists of serious professional gamblers in an organized community. Whichever it is, these groups usually include individuals with required expertise like data analysis, risk assessment, and necessary knowledge of sports and specific betting markets.
The formation of a syndicate also involves the establishment of a definite system for the decision-making process. It typically involves assigning roles and responsibilities to each individual in the group, such as the analysts who will provide valuable insights, a leader who will make final decisions, a manager tasked with necessary logistics, etc.
Examples of Betting Syndicates
Typically, betting syndicates stay out of the public’s view for obvious reasons. But there have been a few syndicate betting success stories over the years. One of the most well-known ones is that of Mathew Benham’s Smartodds. Matthew Benham, a former VP of Bank of America, created his syndicate, Smartodds, in 2004. The group was successful, helping Benham grow his wealth to hundreds of millions. Smartodds is also a research hub that provides statistics, analysis, and predictions to professional punters.
Besides Benham’s Smartodds, many other successful syndicates have popped up on the betting scene, from the Computer Group to Tony Bloom’s Starlizard. We will check out a few of these big betting syndicates later in our article.
What Do Betting Syndicates Do?
Now that we have explored syndicate betting’s meaning and how it works, we should investigate what they do. As mentioned, a lot goes into the operations of these groups beyond collectively placing wagers. The members usually utilize various techniques and sophisticated strategies that require extensive knowledge, analytic skills, and loads of market study hours.
So, let’s dive into some of the key activities that betting syndicates engage in to ensure they achieve their profit objective.
The modus operandi of many syndicates in sports betting is usually to exploit mispriced odds or line movement at the most advantageous moments. As a result, one of the critical roles of some, if not all, syndicate members is to constantly monitor and analyze the market to identify the potential value of wagers and assess the probability of any outcome.
Shop for Lines
A simple fact about sports betting is that different bookmakers may offer slightly different odds for the same event, and these variances, regardless of how small, can significantly impact your overall profitability. So, another major thing professional betting syndicates do is shop across several sportsbooks for the most favorable odds available. Doing this allows them to maximize their potential returns enormously, as the wagers here are usually quite large.
Time Bets for Maximum Impact
Alongside the continuous market analysis and line shopping, timing plays a crucial role in syndicate betting. Group members typically choose when to place their bets carefully to maximize their potential impact. They usually look for opportunities that can result in mispriced lines and value bets. It can result from specific conditions in a game, such as injury updates, weather conditions, etc. Some football betting syndicate groups may also bet on half-time instead of full-game odds, taking advantage of the discrepancy that may come up due to bookmakers pricing it on the fly.
Analyze Data and Statistical Models
Betting syndicates rely on data analysis and statistical modeling to assess betting positions. They analyze historical data, player and team statistics, and other relevant information to make informed predictions. They also use the data to identify game patterns and model how they can impact future outcomes.
The members of professional syndicate groups are constantly adjusting their models and equations to improve their accuracy. The better these models get at making accurate predictions of outcomes in sporting events, the better the syndicate becomes at finding and maximizing value.
Simulate Contests to Determine Probable Outcomes
Some of the best betting syndicate groups utilize simulations and advanced modeling techniques to determine probable outcomes of sporting events. Once they have collated all the necessary data and prioritized and weighed them, they put the model to good use by running thousands to millions of contest simulations.
Compare Predictions to Implied Probability
The best way to find value in betting is by comparing the implied probability of a wager offered by bookmakers with your estimated probability. As a result, another crucial task of syndicate systems is to do this comparison.
After research and analysis or running numerous contest simulations, a syndicate betting tip shows an estimated probability of how a game is expected to play out. The syndicate can also easily calculate the implied probability of any bet with a simple equation using the odds offered by sportsbooks.
After comparing the implied and estimated probability of a bet, if the former happens to be lower than the latter, it means there is good value for the wager. Hence, this comparison helps syndicates identify where the bookmakers’ odds do not accurately reflect the actual likelihood of an outcome, providing an opportunity for profitable betting.
High Volume Betting
A significant upside to joining a betting syndicate is the capability for high-volume wagering. By pooling resources together, these groups can afford to place larger wagers and as many bets as they want. So, unlike individual bettors, these groups tend to place loads of bets regularly, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for the professional ones. For example, a horse betting syndicate will bet on just about any horse racing event if the lines show good and profitable value.
Although these syndicates will naturally lose many high-volume wagers, they will be profitable in the long run if the analysis, modeling, and other crucial factors are spot on.
How Syndicates Place Bets
Betting syndicates usually employ various techniques and betting strategies when placing bets. They would often use any betting platform they find convenient, whether online or land-based. As for the decision on what bets to place, syndicates use various approaches, from market analysis to shopping for lines, statistical models, etc., to identify the best opportunities.
That said, most groups usually have designated members responsible for placing the bets once the decision has been made. They typically distribute these wagers across multiple betting sites to avoid suspicion, as most bookmakers frown on syndicate betting. Some syndicates sometimes utilize what is known as “runners,” non-member individuals, to place wagers on their behalf. It allows them to distribute their bets further, thereby increasing the volume.
Distribution of Winnings
As mentioned, the primary goal of any standard or arbitrage betting syndicate is to make profits. So, when they become profitable, splitting the winnings amongst the members is necessary. To do that, most syndicates would often draft terms that would fairly govern the distribution of winnings amongst its members. It is often formalized in a written agreement with everyone that joins the group.
Ultimately, any syndicate group must be transparent and clear with communication on how the distribution of winnings will go. This way, there will be less conflicts among the members.
How to Set Up a Betting Syndicate
There is no one-size-fits-all way to set up a betting syndicate. But generally, one of the first things to do is to identify potential members who share a similar interest in capitalizing on opportunities in sports betting and possess some relevant expertise. Then, it would help if you established a clear framework for rules and guidelines that covers all the necessary operations, from decision-making to financial contributions, profit sharing, etc. It would help if you also decided which sports, events, and bet markets to capitalize on. For example, a World Cup betting syndicate is only active whenever the tournament is underway.
Next, you must determine each member’s skills and define appropriate roles and responsibilities to ensure effective collaboration. Also, you must determine the funding structure, including the initial and ongoing commitments.
After all, these are in place, running the syndicate is all about constantly analyzing data on the market, drawing spreadsheets, crunching numbers, finding value odds, applying strategies and systems, and making informed predictions for wagers. These, alongside Lady Luck, will help your group win its bets and make profits. But if not, continue adjusting your models and data and keep betting. If your math is correct, everything else will work itself out over time, and you can be profitable.
Working for a betting syndicate
Another route that punters can go when it comes to syndicates is to work for them. If you have decent analysis and modeling skills, you can work for these groups worldwide, including UK, US, and Asian betting syndicates. After all, some groups may not necessarily have skilled members who can handle relevant tasks and roles.
The Legality of Betting Syndicates
As you might have already inferred, the operations of betting syndicates skew more toward the gray area regarding legality. After all, bookmakers and regulators tend to be strict on how punters place their bets. And it’s not as though these syndicates generally have an excellent reputation in the sports betting industry.
So, the legality of betting syndicates is quite complex, and it often depends on the sports betting laws and regulations within the jurisdiction a punter finds. So, while it is considered a legal venture in many places, others impose strict restrictions or completely ban it.
Ultimately, any syndicate needs to ensure that its operations are within the legal framework in its jurisdiction to avoid legal troubles.
Betting Syndicates in the United States
The legality status of professional betting syndicates in the United States is not a one-size-fits-all matter. This is because each state typically determines gambling laws and regulations within the US due to the overturning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018.
However, even if sports betting is legal within a state, betting syndicates can be a grey area. While some jurisdictions might be okay with it, others may see it as what is known as “pool-selling,” which is considered illegal. So, before creating or joining a syndicate, you must ensure that laws and regulations within your state allow it.
Betting Syndicates in the United Kingdom
Sports betting syndicates are generally legal in the United Kingdom. However, this is only as long as the group adheres to the laws and regulations the Gambling Commission put in place.
Syndicates are common in UK betting, especially in lottery, horse racing, football, etc. However, a syndicate must ensure they don’t provide services that can be considered a “betting intermediary.” For example, a syndicate taking a commission or fee from its members for placing bets on their behalf is illegal. This kind of service needs a specific valid license from the Gambling Commission.
Factors That Can Make a Syndicate Illegal
As mentioned, even in jurisdictions where syndicate betting systems are allowed, some things these groups can do that can be considered frowned upon. Below are some of the factors that can make a syndicate illegal:
- Taking a fee or commission: A syndicate must not operate like a professional gambling service by charging a commission for its services. Doing this risks breaching the law, except it has the necessary license from the appropriate council.
- Crossing jurisdictions: In some states or countries, creating or joining a betting syndicate may be legal but illegal to accept wagers from outside the jurisdictions. This factor is especially true for countries like the United States and Canada, where gambling laws generally vary from one state/province to the other.
- Violating age restriction laws: If a gambling syndicate allows individuals who are underage to join their group, it is considered illegal.
- Match-fixing or manipulation: Engaging in match-fixing, insider information betting, or manipulating the outcome of sports events is generally considered illegal. These activities are not only against the rules of fair play but are also considered criminal under most jurisdictions’ laws.
- Tax evasion: Non-compliance to the applicable tax laws is a factor that can make a syndicate be considered illegal. In places where gambling winnings are taxed, syndicates must ensure that they report their earnings.
Pros & Cons of Betting Syndicates
Joining a syndicate can undoubtedly provide many benefits to any punter. However, it also has its fair share of risks and downsides. So, let’s check out these advantages and drawbacks.
The 4 Biggest Betting Syndicates in History
Syndicate betting is a concept that has existed in the sports betting scene for decades. As such, many syndicates have been created over the years in different betting circles. Some of these organizations are linked to the biggest betting wins in history, achieving fame in the scene.
Let’s check out 4 of the biggest syndicates in history.
1. Jimmy Gauld and the 1960s Scandal
One of the oldest and most infamous stories of betting syndicates is the one of Jimmy Gauld in the 1960s when football was not as popular or regulated. In the center of the scandal is the mastermind, Jimmy Gauld, an English football player at Plymouth, Swindon, and Mansfield Town. Back then, Gauld determined that by working with other players from other clubs, they could engage in match-fixing activities and win a lot of money.
So, Gauld approached several players and soon included participant 10 into his gambling syndicate, including the likes of David Lyne of Sheffield Wednesday and Ken Thompson of Hartlepool United. These members soon started to throw matches in favor of their team’s opponents to make profits of an undisclosed but significant amount.
Eventually, the whole scheme ended when Thompson spilled the beans, resulting in the arrest and imprisonment of everyone involved. Gauld got a 4-years sentence, while the rest received between 4 months and a year and a half jail time. They were also banned from ever playing football in England again.
2. Starlizard: Professional Betting Consultancy
Starlizard is a renowned syndicate in the UK founded by Tony Bloom, a former professional poker player and the owner of Brighton & Hove Albion FC. Starlizard is considered one of the best betting syndicates in the gambling scene today, and rightly so, as the group has made hundreds of millions of dollars over the years.
Born in Brighton, England, Bloom has been a gambling enthusiast all his life, having started at a pretty young age. He often played sports betting and poker, eventually becoming a professional player. After years of besting some of the world’s elite poker players and setting up many online gambling sites, Bloom set up Starlized in 2006 as a consultancy agency. The company utilizes advanced statistical models to create betting odds that are more accurate than bookmakers, selling them to high-stakes clients worldwide.
Using the proprietary odds created by Starlizard, Bloom’s betting syndicate places well-informed football wagers for profits. Reports indicate that the syndicate has won over $150 million in a good year. Interestingly, Bloom is said to share in the profit for free with Starlizard’s staff interested in the syndicate. But the catch is that these employees, alongside other group members, are expected to refill the bankroll during losing periods.
3. William Walters’ Betting Syndicate
Considered one of the most successful sports bettors of all time, William T. Walters is believed to have run one of the largest betting syndicates in the US from the 1970s to the 2000s. Walters’ syndicate operated for decades, running agents, runners, and insiders across various sports. Reports indicate that Walters and his syndicate won hundreds of millions of dollars in winnings over the many years of operations. His sports betting activities over 39 years only had one losing year, including a 30-year winning streak.
As the face of the syndicate’s operation and the tremendous success that came with it, Walters has been the subject of many state and federal investigations over the years. However, they all fail to find any proof of any wrongdoings on his part. Interestingly, the main reason William Walter kept his betting syndicate alive was the restrictions on the allowable bets per punter in most Las Vegas sportsbooks. So, he allowed other people to place bets for him while making decisions.
4. The Computer Group
The Computer Group is perhaps the biggest and most successful betting syndicate in history and the first to ever take advantage of computers and statistics to beat the bookies. The group’s origin can be traced to Michael Kent, a computer specialist, who inadvertently created a statistic-based computer program to predict college football game outcomes.
The more Kent improved the program, the more he realized its potential for gaining an edge over the bookmakers. So, in 1979, Kent quit his job and moved to Las Vegas to become a full-time gambler. While the going was tough initially, Kent soon started seeing significant profits from his wagers. And the better the program became, the more steady the profits. To stay out of the public eye, Kent worked alongside Ivan Mindlin, a long-term gambler. Kent stuck with using the program to make betting decisions, while Mindlin used his gambling network to place bets as the pair continued making loads of profits together.
Unknown to Kent, Mindlin started to expand the scale of the operations as time went by, including many other people across the US, like the renowned William Walters. Eventually, the FBI stumbled upon the operations and arrested Mindlin and Kent. The FBI couldn’t find any wrongdoings regarding the bets the group was placing, but they had been guilty of tax evasion and had to pay a hefty bill to the IRS. The Computer Group eventually disbanded due to infighting amongst the principal players, and Kent went on to create another betting group with his brother.
To sum up, a sports betting syndicate is a group of bettors collaborating to beat the bookies and make a considerable profit. Members of these groups pool their resources and expertise, divide various roles, and work together using various strategies to identify and exploit betting opportunities in the market.
Regardless of its form, forming or joining betting syndicates is a popular and efficient way for punters to increase their chances of long-term success in the sports betting world. It not only maximizes the profits a punter can gain from betting but also minimizes the impact of losses when bets fail.
However, you must also remember that, like any form of sports betting, syndicate betting is not without its cons and risks. So, if you decide to join one, research and choose a legal and reputable group. Also, ensure you practice responsible gambling and only put in money you can afford to lose.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a betting syndicate?A betting syndicate is a group of individual bettors who pool their knowledge, expertise, and resources to place bets on sports or other events. The main goal of a syndicate is to leverage their combined effort to try and guarantee and maximize profits.
How do betting syndicates work?The operation of a betting syndicate involves the collaboration of different individuals within a group, utilizing their resources, knowledge, and expertise to make informed betting decisions. The syndicate members contribute funds to a collective pool used to place bets. The profits or losses from their wager are then distributed amongst the members.
Are betting syndicates legal?The legal status of betting syndicates often depends on the jurisdiction a punter resides in. In some countries, betting syndicates are considered legal as long as they operate within the confines of the law within the jurisdictions. Conversely, others subject it to restrictions or consider it illegal. So, you must ensure that the specific regulations within your state legalize syndicates before creating or joining one.
How to join a betting syndicate?To join a betting syndicate, you typically need to find an already established group of sports bettors open to accepting new members. You can find such groups via online forums, social media platforms, personal connections, or professional gambling-related networks and associations.
How much money do I need to join a betting syndicate?The amount required often depends on the group you want to join. While some groups may require a significant sum for the initial contribution, others have a low entry cost. Regular commitments may also be imposed, depending on the syndicate. That is why it’s always important to find out the commitment terms of a group before joining.
Can I form my betting syndicate?Yes, you can form your betting syndicates as long as you can find a group of like-minded individuals interested in betting together with the necessary skills and expertise. However, you should note that you must comply with every applicable law and regulations in your jurisdiction regarding the group.
How to set up a betting syndicate?Setting up a betting syndicate is pretty simple. All you need is a group of like-minded bettors, preferably with valuable skills you can build trust with. You can then determine all the other relevant details. It includes establishing clear communication channels, a guiding framework for operations, assigning roles and responsibilities, developing a system for analysis and betting strategies, etc.
Are betting syndicates limited to specific sports?No, betting syndicates are not limited to specific sports, as they can bet on any event as long as a bookmaker offers it. However, most syndicates tend to focus their betting activities on particular sports, depending on the preferences and expertise of the members.
How are winnings distributed in a betting syndicate?Winnings from betting syndicates are typically distributed amongst the members based on predetermined agreed-upon rules or contracts. It can be a proportionate financial contribution of each member, a specific profit-sharing ratio, or other set arrangements. However, the exact distribution method must be clearly defined, fair, transparent, and agreed upon by all members.
Do betting syndicates use betting bots or automated systems?Some betting syndicates may employ betting bots or automated systems to assist in certain areas of their betting activities, from data analysis to market monitoring and placing bets.