If you have ever engaged in online sports betting, then you will likely also know that there is a multitude of sites offering tips on the bets to place. These have sprung up in their hundreds over the years, providing you with what they determine to be knowledgeable insight into the upcoming sports events. It is then common for bettors to utilise such information to assist them with placing what they believe to have strong chances of providing a winning payout.
Many tipping websites like these, including those that operate specifically via social media accounts, do not operate with a high level of regulation. It is not uncommon to find that some of them provide bad tips, thereby prompting bettors to place bets on a losing team or player. And while this may seem detrimental to the tipping service as well, this is not the case. Many of them actually continue to make a profit even when they provide incorrect tips to punters. This is also frequently done so that the tipping sites can increase revenue, regardless of the type of tips that they’re handing out to bettors.
Another route that tippers take is through unsolicited SMS messages or emails. They effectively tip every single outcome in an event, often a horse race, but send different tips to different people. They, therefore, guarantee that some of the people they send these messages too will win and think it is a genuine tip. They will then sign up to the service for a subscription fee.
Should these types of services be outrightly banned from being active? After all, is there a legitimate way for them to provide such tipping services to people? Especially considering that the majority of them are solely out to make money, rather than to provide legitimate tips to people. It is actually something that may be addressed as part of new gambling laws due later this year or early next year.
Social Media to Blame for a Lot of Issues
The fact that social media is utilised by a lot of sportsbooks and bettors alike has led to a significant increase in affiliation with bookmakers by tipping services. Many of these work on the basis that the affiliate receives a percentage of the losses that a customer runs up when they register for an account. This registration must be done through the link that the affiliate provides (in this circumstance, the tipping service will provide such a link).
Since the introduction of such affiliation programmes, tipping accounts that utilise social media have increased significantly. The same is true of tipping blogs that operate the same sort of service. In fact, some of these services boast over half a million followers on Twitter, for example.
With multiple affiliations with online sportsbooks, these accounts then proceed with posting tips through their social media pages. A link will also be provided to a specific bookmaker that users then click on. After the customer has signed up through that link, the tipping service makes a profit on the losses that they experience. Alternatively, a link will be provided to their own tipping website, where multiple sportsbooks can be chosen from for betting. Whatever the case may be though, the result is the same in the end when the link is clicked and a registration occurs.
Prior to the heightened use of social media for just about anything these days, tipping services were not able to garner quite as much of a reach. For sure, these affiliate programmes were still active, but social media has simply allowed them to bolster the number of people that they are attracting to the sites.
What Revenue Do the Tipping Sites Receive?
The affiliation programme that each tipping site enters into will differ in terms of the percentage of revenue provided. However, generally, these percentages can range from between 20 and 50 percent. Take a look at William Hill for example, which advertises on the affiliate section of its site that the default net revenue share for affiliates is:
- 30% for Sports, Casino, Vegas, Games;
- 15% for Bingo, Poker and Live Casino
In other words, if you were an affiliate and had links to the William Hill platform, someone could click on that, sign up for an account and start betting on whatever they preferred. Let’s say that a customer loses a total of £200 betting on sports and casino games this equates to £60 for the affiliate, and then whenever they continue losing the commission continues being delivered.
As noted, the different sites provide different revenue shares to their affiliates. However, the fact that these affiliates can still earn money from players’ and bettors’ losses makes it quite the inviting revenue stream for many of them. And because of this, many of them are not really concerned with providing accurate tips on the best bets to place. Instead, some of them will make silly suggestions and promote them as being the best route to go.
By doing so, players can sign up expecting to be on the winning end of a wager. The fact that it is a losing wager for them makes no difference to the tipping service. It still receives its percentage commission.
Of course, it is difficult to specifically state that these tipsters are deliberately providing losing tips, because in the end, nobody can be certain that a tip will definitively lose. However, various other methods can be used by these services to tempt customers in to placing bets that are more likely to be losing ones. Many accounts proceed with frequently tipping long-odds accumulators alongside the sign-up link to a bookmaker. Options like £10 free bets and so on are also heavily promoted as ways to entice bettors.
Do All Affiliates Do This?
For the avoidance of doubt you should know that we ourselves are affiliates and receive commissions from the sites we recommend that you sign up to, either as a fixed fee or ongoing profit share. Affiliate marketing is very common and has been around pretty much as long as marketing. Think of sites like Compare The Market, U Switch or any site that recommends you hotels, travel, etc., these are all affiliate marketers.
The difference with us, and most other affiliates, is we don’t tell you what to bet on or how to spend your money, that is up to you, we just show you licensed and regulated sites that we recommend for various services. The issue with tipping is the customer is both linked to the affiliate and is being led by the affiliate at the same to place certain bets, that can in itself increase the earnings of the tipping service.
Tipping services may not deliberately give you losing bets, if they did that they wouldn’t last very long as a tipping service. What they do commonly do though is give long odds tips, i.e. bets that are unlikely to win (such as a horse at 20/1). This means that on balance customers are more likely to lose than win thereby increasing the revenue for the tipping service.
Special Offers Via Redirections
Special offers including free bets and welcome bonuses on deposit have always been a way for such platforms to appeal to people. And these are features that tipping sites can also utilise to their advantage.
For example, in 2019, a large tipping service with around 600,000 Twitter followers proceeded to post numerous links to a 103/1 accumulator on its feed. Clicking on that link transported users to the company’s own website, which featured the accumulator and a total of 17 advertisements for different bookmakers. All of them had special offers catering to new customers.
A tipping service known as InplayMan on Twitter, which has been active since January of 2014. It has a following of over 70,000 Twitter users and has made over 72,000 Tweets since it became active. The owner of that account spoke with The Irish Times and mentioned that he used to work via an affiliate service, but stopped doing so for various reasons. In that interview, he said:
“Morally it wasn’t what I was about and although I earned some cash from it, the bad press, the hassle, and tightening regulations just no longer interested me. And despite always being honest with my followers and trying to explain to people what it was about, my personal aim wasn’t to make profit from this, it was to create a community and make betting fun again for people”.
It is also the case that some tipping services promote what are known as rolling challenge bets. These work of the basis that a punter places a £10 bet in order to win £20 and then a £20 wager to win £40 and so on. The challenge is completed when the bettor reaches the figure set out by the tipster. Of course, this just allows the tipping service to obtain more money.
The owner of InplayMan specifically singles those tipsters as being the ones to watch out for. They could purposely be tipping losers so as to gain a profit, although of course, they would never admit this. Therefore, it can be difficult to prove something like that. However, they are outrightly lying to people so that they can make profit, and this, InplayMan says is a fact. He says that this is due to the fact that they’re preying on the fact that everyone would love to place a £1 bet and win £1,000,000 from it on sports betting.
While it is true that there will be some people who won money from participating in those tipster challenges, the tipping service will then immediately create another one. If you managed to win one, why not try out a second one? And if you weren’t involved in the first, you saw some others win on a challenge, so why not involve yourself in the follow-up? That creates a win-win situation for the tipster. Yes, if you win a challenge, then potentially the tipster will lose some money if they’re on a revenue share scheme. However, when the next challenge is a failing one for the majority of players, they’ll be flooded with income.
Of course, this should not see all tipping services tarred with one and the same brush. After all, some of them can be very genuine and looking to provide honest and favourable tips on sporting events. Genuine tipsters will often work on a cost per acquisition model (CPA) and receive a fixed fee for each account sent. The fact this is a fixed fee rather than a profit share means the tipster is not inclined to give bad tips just to earn more money.
Should Tipping Services Be Banned?
Calls have been made for not only tipping services to be banned, but affiliate programmes in general. However, Joseph Buchdahl works as a sports betting analyst and is the author of Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks: The Science, Psychology & Philosophy of Gambling, and he believes there is a better solution. He thinks that it should become mandatory for an affiliate to inform their customers that the revenue earned from the website comes from their losses on a sportsbook. At the same time, he believes that tipsters should have to be outrightly honest about their tips being general advice only, and that there is a high probability that the advice will result in a loss for the punter.
“Not enough people are willing to tell the story that the sports betting industry is actually a really hard thing to succeed in”, said Buchdahl. “I’m upfront with people, I have a little disclaimer on the website saying I earn revenue from your losses and that’s how this thing works. And the reason I can do that is because almost everyone will not have the skills to beat the bookmaker in the long run and that’s how you will lose, and I will win”.
A mandatory rule being introduced of affiliates stating how they make their money from customer losses would likely curb the enthusiasm of some bettors from using such services. After all, when they know that a service like that makes money when they lose, why would they believe that the tips being offered to them are genuinely wanting to provide outright assistance? This is a similar idea to what already happens in the finance industry, where many sites exist recommending financial services for which they receive a reward.
“The reality of this industry is that people can only win if other people lose”, says Buchdahl. “You can say an affiliate wants people to lose and if that’s the only way they were going to make money then that’s true. If the affiliate had a moral conscience about doing this then they would presumably not do it”.
However, Buchdahl has not suffered significantly due to informing his visitors that he makes money off of their losses. Instead, his openness and honesty has likely endured him to some bettors. Naturally, there’s a potential that more people would use his tipping service if they did not know he earns profit off their losses. However, does it really make a difference in the end, he questions?
“If a punter is going to lose £100 then its either £100 to the bookmaker or £70 to the bookmaker and £30 to the affiliate. What’s the difference?”.
The truth is that tipping services, if provided in a moral and honest way, could likely be of some assistance to sports bettors. If you are getting the proper insight into sports events and actually have the possibility of benefitting from knowledge of tipsters above your own, then it stands to be a good service. Unfortunately, the fact that so many immoral tipsters have risen to the surface and have taken advantage of punters has made the good ones difficult to seek out.
Tipsters that charge a subscription to their customers for their services are more likely to be genuine than those that don’t. Even then you don’t know that just because you are paying a sub that the tipster isn’t also making money through affiliate channels too. The best way would be if the site had to tell you up front how they make money, this is something that will be addressed in one form or another in new gambling laws.
Banning it outrightly may not be the ultimate answer, though. As Buchdahl says, it may just be a lot more beneficial to regulate the tipping services offered by these affiliate programmes. This way, a mandatory rule is invoked that requires them all to be 100% honest with how they make their money with visitors to their site and users of their service.