There is just two weeks to go until this year’s SBC Awards, the annual end of year celebration for the sports betting industry at Artillery Garden (Tuesday 5 December).
With tables fast selling out for the event, we caught up with our hosts Matt Lorenzo, a former Sky Sports presenter, and Luis Garcia, a Champions League winner with Liverpool.
Keep reading to find out what attracted them to the #sbcawards2017, how Lorenzo and Garcia assessed the current state of the industry, and what parallels they have found between top level football and the fight for supremacy across the sports betting sector.
SBC: Hi Matt and Luis, thank you for speaking to us. Firstly, what is it that attracted you about presenting this year’s SBC Awards?
ML: I am by no means an expert on gambling (!) but I enjoy the banter and sense of fun having a bet involves. I’ve worked with several bookies on various football shows and enjoyed their company.
In fact, I produced and presented Sky Sport’s first ever ad-funded programme, ‘Off The Bar’, which featured a different bookie looking ahead to the weekend’s Premier League fixtures every week and was, for a time, sponsored by Boylesports.
SBC: How do you assess the current state of the sports betting market; does the technology available excite you as a potential punter?
ML: It would seem to be healthy given the contents of commercial breaks on Sky and BT, the number of programmes sponsored by betting companies, and the profile of those companies at football grounds and on various club shirts.
I have two betting apps on my phone. Placing a bet is simple, but I make most use of odds, which are always accurate to the second and the best guide anywhere to likely results.
LG: I strongly believe that it is an industry full of potential, and no doubt it can still reach a higher volume of people. In my opinion, if the proper use of bets is made I think it could be very beneficial for all parties involved in the world of football.
SBC: What do you two make of FA Rule E8, which prohibits any professional footballer from betting on the game; is this too extreme or necessary to maintain integrity across the sport?
ML: Apart from being a difficult law to enforce, I think it’s a little harsh to stop a footballer betting on any football match anywhere.
There’s no way a Spurs player should be allowed to bet on the North London derby, but I don’t see why he shouldn’t be allowed to take a punt on the Merseyside derby. And if he thinks he has inside information, what’s to stop him passing the detail onto a friend?
LG: For much of my career, bets were not as widespread as they are now through online platforms. Equally, they always gave us advice on how professional players should behave.
SBC: What are the major parallels between top level football and the fight for supremacy across the sports betting sector?
ML: They’re both about big business but I think the interesting factor in common is data and analysis generally. Clubs like Brentford and Brighton have benefited from an application of the Science of Football – the Moneyball approach.
Both clubs are owned by successful gamblers – I think the parallels are obvious. I don’t think stats and algorithms can change football performance or gambling dividends on their own, but a punter who knows how to use them is bound to have the edge.
SBC: And finally, one for Luis, what do you class as your career highlight in football; representing your country or lifting the Champions League with Liverpool?
LG: I am very satisfied with my time in Liverpool and my career in general. Winning in Istanbul was a historic moment. And we were looking to re-register our names in the club’s history two years later. Unfortunately, we could not get it and for me to be injured was a mixture of frustration and sadness.
On a more positive note, being the champion of the first Indian Super League was another incredible moment in my career. My desire to get to India was to help promote football in that country, and to achieve it through a championship was something I will always remember.