Never Tell Me the Odds: The Stingy Odds for Leicester City to Win the English Premier League

Main Article Content

Matthew Hood
William Chittenden
R. Todd Jewell


The crowning of Leicester City FC as English Premier League champions in 2016 is arguably the biggest upset in the history of professional sports. The pre-season odds posted for LCFC to win the EPL were 5,000:1, worse than finding Elvis alive. In our model, they win just once per 70,000 simulations; thus, bettors could expect a return of just 0.071 of the stake when betting on Leicester City. This is similar to the expected return of betting on all of the long-shots in our simulations; however, the expected value of bets on favorites averages 0.864. We find that the betting market is segmented for favorites and long-shots; while the market for favorites resembles a normal betting market, the market for long-shots is like a lottery.

Article Details


References, 2016, 10 things bookies thought more likely than Leicester winning the Premier League. BBC Online. Posted: 26 April 2016. Accessed: 29 August 2017.

Conover, W.J. 1980, Practical Nonparametric Statistics, 2nd ed, New York: Jophn Wiley & Sons.

Flepp, Raphael, Stephan Nüesch, and Egon Frank, 2016, Does bettor sentiment affect bookmaker pricing? Journal of Sports Economics, volume 17:1, pages 3-11.

Forrest, David, Robert Simmons, and Neil Chesters, 2002, Buying a dream: Alternative models of demand for lotto. Economic Inquiry, volume 40:3, pages 485-496.

Forrest, David, and Robert Simmons, 2003, Sport and gambling. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, volume 19:4, pages 596-611.

Gambling Commission, 2017, Annual report and accounts 2016/17. UK Gambling Commission.

Goddard, John, 2005, Regression models for forecasting goals and match results in association football. International Journal of Forecasting, volume 21, pages 331-340.

Gruen, Arthur, 1976, An inquiry into the economics of race-track gambling. Journal of Political Economy, volume 84:1, pages 169-178.

Hill, I.D., 1974, Association football and statistical inference. The American Statistician, volume 23:2, pages 203-208.

Humphreys, Brad R., Rodney J. Paul, and Andrew P. Weinbach, 2013, Consumption benefits and gambling: Evidence from the NCAA basketball betting market. Journal of Economic Psychology, volume 39, pages 376-386.

Hvattum, Lars Magnus, and Halvard Arntzen, 2010, Using ELO ratings for match result prediction in association football. International Journal of Forecasting, volume 26, pages 460-470.

Kahneman, Daniel, and Amos Tversky, 1979, Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica, volume 47:2, pages 263-292.

Kumar, Alok, 2009, Who gambles in the stock market? The Journal of Finance, volume 64:4, pages 1889-1933.

Oikonomidis, Anastasios, and Johnnie Johnson, 2011, Who can beat the odds? The case of football betting reviewed. Chapter 15 (pages 204-220) of Prediction Markets: Theory and Applications, edited by Leighton Vaughan Williams, Routledge, New York: USA.

Page, Lionel, 2009, Is there an optimistic bias on betting markets? Economics Letters, volume 102, pages 70-72.

Samuelson, Paul A., 1952, Probability, utility, and the independence axiom. Econometrica, volume 20:4, pages 670-678.

Štrumbelj, E., and M. Robnik Šikonja, 2010, Online bookmakers’ odds as forecasts: The case of European soccer leagues. International Journal of Forecasting, volume 26:3, pages 482-488.

Zorthian, Julia, 2017, The $759 Million Powerball Winner Quit Her Job Almost Immediately, Posted: 24 August 2017. Accessed: 25 August 2017.