Can You Bet On Anything You Want To?

all oddsThere’s an old saying about the betting industry: if you can think about it then you can bet on it. Whilst that isn’t technically true, there are a wide range of things that you can place wagers on and the list extends to anything, as long as a bookmaker thinks that there’s a market. The event in question must have a definitive outcome and be a public event.

In the modern era the vast majority of bookmakers have chosen to decline the requests of customers wishing to bet on something unsavoury, such as the assassination of a president or the next celebrity to die. As long as it isn’t morally questionable, though, there’s a good chance that a bookmaker will be willing to give you odds on the outcome of something.

If you are interested in this type of thing also check out our page on bizarre things you can bet on.

Request Your Own Bets

request a betThere are very few rules in place when it comes to what a bookmaker can and cannot take bets on. Most of the markets that are offered by fixed-odds bookies are on specific markets that can be easily identified; usually in the region of sports outcomes or the winner of an entertainment award. The invention of the request-a-bet feature has changed all of that, however.

The vast majority of major bookmakers allow punters to get in touch with them and request odds on a specific thing. This has been going on ever since bookies have existed, however, in the past this was complicated by needing to go into a bookie shop or by contacting one of the big bookies over the phone.

These days this has all changed with pretty much all the major brands offering the ability to quickly request bets. Often this will be via social media, but you can also do so over the phone or in person if they’re a company that boasts both an online operation and physical shops. The majority of people use such a service to request unusual outcomes of events already marked up.

A good example of this is with a football match. Someone could send a tweet to their favourite bookie asking for odds on Liverpool to beat Manchester City 4-1, with five or more yellow cards shown, thirteen or more corners and twenty fouls or over. The bookmaker will then look at the odds on that bet and provide them to the punter, who can decide whether to place the bet or not.

The same service can be used to ask for odds on something that you think will happen, however. There is no guarantee that a bookmaker will provide odds to you, but there’s no harm in asking. The bookies’ decision will ultimately depend on what it is that you’re asking and whether the outcome can be both definitive and verified by independent experts.

Odds For Bet Requests

betting oddsBefore you get too excited about bet requests and start asking for odds on anything it is worth considering that generally these are bad value bets.  When we say poor value we mean in terms of the odds margins

On competitive markets (e.g. football match result) bookies set fairly low margins on all markets in the knowledge that they will receive bets on all outcomes, ideally they will 'balance their book', meaning they guarantee to make money no matter the outcome.

When it comes to a very complex market or a highly specific market, such as an obscure bet request, the bookie will firstly have less reliable data and so will take a conservative approach and secondly they are unlikely to be able to balance that market (i.e. receive bets on the opposite outcomes).  Because of this the odds you receive relative to the true probabilities will be worse than many standard bets and this is worth bearing in mind.

Value is of course relative though and if you have a strong belief in an outcome it may be something worth pursuing.  What you perhaps shouldn't do is use bet requests regularly in light of the generally poor returns for the punter.

Betting On Kids Being Successful

betting on your kids exampleWhilst a bookmaker won’t give you odds on which fly takes off first from a pair of them that are on your windowsill, they will be quick to look up odds on a whole host of markets if you want to bet on them. This can vary from the mundane to the marvelous, with the likes of election betting fitting into the former category and the end of the world being in the latter.

Obviously there are question marks around the idea of why exactly you’d want to bet on the end of the world considering the fact that you wouldn’t be able to collect your winnings, but if you want to do so then bookmakers won’t be shy in allowing you to. A more common bet is for a child to become something of a prodigy, which is a bet we’ve seen numerous times over the years as more people have started to bet on their kids.

One of the most famous examples of such a bet came in 1995 when Eddie Kirkland and friends of the Kirkland family placed a bet on Eddie’s son Chris playing for England one day. When Chris Kirkland won his first international cap in 2006, Eddie and his friends walked away with a decent pot of prize money to share between them.

Bookmakers aren’t stupid, of course. If you wish to place a bet on a child becoming successful at something then they’ll do a whole heap of research before they give you odds. It’s why a bet on 9-year-old Lewis Hamilton winning a Formula 1 Grand Prix before he turned 23 only garnered odds of 40/1 from Ladbrokes.

Whilst those sorts of bets can cost bookies a huge sum of money, the stories we don’t hear about are the bets placed by parents whose children go on to do nothing quite as spectacular. Had Curtis Robb’s father placed a bet on him making it to the Olympics at some point then he’d have won some money, but instead his 1989 wager was on his son winning an Olympic medal and ended up being a losing one.

Other Example Bets

Cheese Rolling
Cheese Rolling Race - Dave Farrance / CC BY-SA

There are a wide range of examples of interesting bets that people have placed over the years. Whilst at university, Justin Tomlinson and Chris Kelly placed bets on themselves becoming Prime Minister before 2038. They were offered odds of 10,000/1, meaning that they stand to make £500,000 if it happens. They’re already Conservative party MPs.

Who Dunnits

In 1995 the cartoon show The Simpsons had a storyline in which Mr Burns, the owner of the power plant that Homer Simpson worked at, was shot. It was a two-part storyline, with one episode being the end of series 6 and the other the start of series 7. Waylon Smithers, Mr Burns’ assistant, and Homer were the main suspects, but the story gripped America if not the world.

As a result, bookmakers began to offer odds on who committed the shooting. In the end, it was revealed that Maggie Simpson was the culprit, which was an outcome that boasted odds of 70/1. It’s an example of how bookies will offer markets on popular culture, including the identity of a murderer / shooter in a popular TV show.

The Next Actor To Play A Popular Character

It’s not just mysteries in TV shows that bookmakers will offer odds on when it comes to the world of popular culture. One of the most popular markets, for example, is on the idea of which actor will be cast in the role of James Bond when the current incumbent hangs up their Walther PPK. Depending on when they’re due to retire, odds can fluctuate wildly.

In a similar vein, popular characters such as Dr Who will often see large bets being placed on the next person to play the role when news of the current one leaving begin to emerge. When Jodie Whittaker was cast in the role in 2017, those that took bookmakers up on their offer of odds of 25/1 will have been delighted with the outcome.

Wife-Carrying

Whilst you will struggle to get odds on your ability to carry your spouse from one end of the street to another, if you’re taking part in the specific sport of wife-carrying in Ireland then you’ll be in luck. In fact, that particular sport doesn’t even need husband and wife teams to enter, instead being open to anyone carrying a woman around an obstacle course.

Bog Snorkelling

The Rude Health World Bog Snorkelling Championships might sound like something we’ve just made up, but in actual fact it has been taking place for 35 years. In 2014 Lonely Planet described it as a ‘must do’ activity, whilst bookmakers are often willing to offer odds on the winner. Contestants can wear only snorkels and flippers and must swim 60 yards in a bog.

Cheese Rolling

Another odd sport, if you wish to call it that, cheese rolling is regular occurrence in the county of Gloucestershire. The unique event takes place every spring and quite literally involves rolling cheese down a hillside. Ever ones to take advantage of such a market, bookmakers are wiling to offer various odds on the competition, with the ultimate winner being the most popular.

Ferret Bingo

If there’s a better example than ferret bingo of a mad market that people will bet on, proving that you really can place wagers on anything, then we’re yet to hear of it. Ferret bingo involves putting ferrets into tunnels and seeing which numbered hole they pop their heads out of. Each number os ticket off a bingo like card that leads to an eventual winner.

Wayfairing Fauna

Some specialist bookies now offer odds on animal migratory patterns.  This began with markets on the great turtle race in 2007, they were tracked by satellite from Costa Rica to Galapagos.  In 2015 the spring migratory patterns of 17 common cuckoos were tracked with William Hill providing prices.

The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 saw the shutdown of most major sports and one of the biggest markets to gain from this was betting on the summer migration patterns of great white sharks, proving when there is nothing else to bet on people will bet on anything.