Gamblers behave differently during game time and lulls in action such as half-time.   A computer-modeled comparison of their actions says there are corollaries between the actions of gamblers at half-time and people in the stock market.

But how do behaviors change when no action is happening?   Unlike the stock market, football gamblers are, more often than not, free of news about the game during half-time. Gamblers are simply left to their own devices which, the researchers suggest, is akin to identifying the complex interactions of stock market traders.

The researchers from Trinity College Dublin analyzed data and identified betting trends during the 2007-08 Champions’ League Tournament.   Using a complete dataset from, a UK betting service, results were drawn from bets made during every game of the Tournament, the researchers have identified changes in the market odds which reflect real-time match events. The market odds are seen to fluctuate in response to events occurring on the pitch such as goals scored.

However, in order to more accurately compare the behavior of gamblers to traders on the stock market, the researchers were focused on the activity of gamblers during half-time. 

Stephen Hardiman from the School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin, said, “Such a clear elimination of external news influences would be difficult to achieve in the case of stock market prices or foreign exchange rates.”

The researchers found that even during half-time, market fluctuations persist and exhibit, what economists call, long-range volatility correlations. They also find that there is more trading on outcomes which have small odds, suggesting gamblers are more inclined to trade bets on the favorite to win.

“One might assume that memory of a team’s past glories, media speculation over the health of key players, or just an overwhelming desire to see your own team win could bias a gambler’s judgment.  Gambling markets and financial markets have much in common, but possess unique differences. What we learn from gamblers may provide insight into the equally complex world of finance,” they said.

Citation: Hardiman et al , 'Long-range correlations in an online betting exchange for a football tournament', 2010 New J. Phys. 12 105001