Bookmakers are exploiting fans watching Premier League matches with “Live odds” adverts which promise an “easy big win,” scientists warn.
They offer attractive odds such as which player will score first or what the final score will be and are an increasingly lucrative business for bookmakers shown before kick off or at half time.
But the gambling firms stand accused of manipulating the knowledge and love fans have for their team while the “odds of winning are negligible.”
This was because of the vast number of potential outcomes which makes it hard for fans to rationally quantify and forecast.
Only a minority of adverts were based on simpler events, such as “Manchester City to win” that gamblers are more likely to get spot on.
Instead bookmakers advertised more complex gambles which had the highest profit margins in a bid to lure in punters.
Yet as the complexity of the bet increased, football fans’ optimism about their chances also grew, yet the odds became less fair, the University of Stirling study found.
Gambling firms spent £500 million on advertising since 2012 - 4.1 per cent of all TV advertising - but rake in more than £13.6 billion a year from punters.
Behavioural scientist Dr Philip Newall who is also a professional poker player said: “It seems football fans are rarely able to rationalise the likelihood of a win for the complex events that now dominate gambling advertising in the UK.
“Everyone, from die-hard football fans to novice gamblers, struggled to estimate the outcome of live-odd bets and may be underestimating the cost of these gambles.”
He analysed two months worth of TV adverts shown during 28 live games between January and February 2016 and found they were biased towards complex and highly specific bets.
Dr Newall said: “Gambling is an active British pastime of key economic importance, with the latest figures showing the public’s annual losses are running at £13.6 billion, or £310 per adult per year.
“These gambling losses are supported by frequent advertising that stresses the gratification, possibilities, and excitement involved in gambling.
“A relatively modern invention, live-odds adverts have become an unavoidable part of watching British sports.
“Live-odds adverts broadcast odds on specific gambles for example ‘Wayne Rooney to score the first goal, 5/1’ during televised matches.
“The same advertising also occurs across a diverse range of media, for example betting shop windows, newspapers, online banner adverts and social media, and SMS text messaging.
“Research in a range of consumer markets, such as credit cards, mobile phone contracts, and subprime mortgages shows that highly-complex and often poor value-for-money products are often sold to the least-informed consumers.
“Less-informed credit card customers are more likely to receive promotions highlighting salient near-term but small benefits, while savvier consumers are more likely to receive promotions with higher long-term rewards.”
The study found three fifths of TV gambling adverts involved a specific player scoring, while odds for a team to win with an exact score line were also popular.
Dr Newell argued gambles like this are particularly difficult for punters to accurately predict due to the many potential goal scorers or score lines.
During the two months only a minority of adverts were based on simpler events, such as one team to win and the Southampton versus West Ham game on 8th February was the only match without any live-odds adverts.
He said: “Live-odds TV gambling adverts that promote betting on specific, complex gambles during sporting events are becoming increasingly prominent in the UK.
“These types of bets are attractive to gamblers due to the high potential win: however, due to the vast number of potential outcomes, they are very difficult to rationally quantify and forecast and, as a result, result in significant average losses.”
Dr Newall said: “Bookmaker profit margins on advertised bets are much higher than the average losses on the likes of fixed-odds betting terminals.
“At a minimum, an industry committed to promoting responsible gambling should disclose the average profit margin with all advertised football bets.
“Providing people with this information could help them become more sensitive to the risks of costly complex gambles.”
Adrian Parkinson from Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “The betting industry has, for some time, been developing these bet types with a particular focus on attracting the young, football supporting demographic.
“They are creating the illusion of an easy big win, based on something the consumer feels knowledgeable about, but the reality that is tied up in these complex bet structures means your odds of winning are negligible.
“It’s manipulation of consumers and it’s time bookmakers came clean on the real value of these bets.”
The study was published in Addiction Research and Theory.