Betting syndicates don’t get a lot of attention but they have massive influence in moving the lines. Many sports bettors are interested in knowing more about these syndicates and how they operate, so let’s look into it – what is a betting syndicate really?
How betting syndicates work
A betting syndicate is typically a group of players that have combined to put their knowledge together and operate as a collective.
If you can imagine a local lottery club where several members chip in to buy weekly tickets, with potential winnings being shared between the members, then you can also understand how a betting syndicate works. Syndicates are just operating at a much higher level and they are very professional in their approach.
The top syndicates have a group of owners and a lot of people working with data. The goal is usually to find value and to beat the closing odds. Syndicates place huge amounts of money on sporting events – primarily because it’s a highly professional venture, but also because a syndicate is working as a group, and that naturally makes the stakes higher.
The majority of betting syndicates earn their money from beating the market and taking in their own betting profits. A few of them do not only place bets – they also sell their picks to subscribers, although this is often very pricey.
Syndicates move the lines
The market decides the lines and the odds for every single event. Yes, it is true that the bookmaker puts out their odds first, but they are constantly adjusted based on where the money goes. The top bookmakers usually want to be in the middle so that they win regardless of the outcome. Syndicates have enormous influence in moving the lines since they are the ones who place the largest wagers on the market.
Let’s say we have a soccer match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City. Chelsea is favored, so the Asian line is Chelsea -0.75 and the odds are even at 1.96-1.96. Now, two big betting syndicates are finding value on Leicester, and after placing a few million, the line suddenly becomes Chelsea -0.5 instead.
Due to the amounts syndicates are placing, they play a key role in controlling the odds and the lines on the market. This is especially obvious at the betting exchanges. Sometimes on Betfair and Betdaq, often right before a match starts, you will notice how the odds can quickly move. Sometimes they go from 1.85 to. 1.75 in the matter of a minute – and this is often because of syndicates who are taking as much liquidity as they can and betting all the way down to their stop point.
How they place their bets
Obviously, betting syndicates are not exactly low-rollers. They place some huge amounts, and we are often talking about millions or at the very least hundreds of thousands.
So the question is, where do they place their bets – and how do they get that access?
Many regular sharps, privately winning players, have undoubtedly encountered personal limits on their way to betting success. That’s because the regular bookies do not like winning players, so they are out of the question. Syndicates do not place bets with Bet365, Unibet, 888sport, and so on. It is simply impossible because they don’t allow big long-term winners.
Instead, syndicates typically use these methods to place their bets:
- Special agreements with top Asian bookies such as Pinnacle, SBO, IBC, ISN
- Using brokers
- Exchanges with high liquidity such as Betfair, Betdaq and Matchbook
- Sometimes, betting on the black market (especially common for Asian syndicates)
The legality of the concept
In general, betting syndicates are considered to be legal when they comply with all regulations. Of course, it all depends on whichever country the syndicate is operating from. But if we assume sports betting is legal, and if the syndicate takes proper care of all employee and tax responsibilities, it is a completely legal business venture in many countries.
However, since the betting world is oftentimes a bit shady, and since the word ‘syndicate’ itself is often related to criminal organizations, betting syndicates have gotten a bad rep, but the truth is that most of them are legal.
The main legal issue is that it is generally not allowed to place bets on behalf of others. But this can be worked around in a variety of ways. For example, a syndicate can have multiple accounts on behalf of each key member. Or even better, with some brokers and some sharp bookmakers, it is possible to sign up as a business rather than as an individual, and that eliminates this issue entirely.
Working for a betting syndicate
If you are a talented sports bettor and you have some skills as an analytic or within mathematics, it is actually possible to work for a betting syndicate. They are not exactly open with their hirings, though. Often they scout various betting sites and social media to find talent. It’s very rare to see an open job description with a betting syndicate (although it does happen sometimes). Very often, the syndicate will come to you if they see you have made a name for yourself. And the salary can be quite good. Especially if you’re based in Asia.
Starting your own group
We can’t make an article about betting syndicates without entertaining the option of how to actually start a group, like a small syndicate, yourself.
Naturally, it requires that you have some contacts that you can buddy up with, and that you actually have some skills as a sports bettor.
The difficult part is the formal stuff. Should you get registered as a business? Should you contact brokers about making special agreements? That type of stuff.
If you are interested in being part of a betting syndicate, and you want to be a professional within this field, it could be a good idea to start out small. Make a group with some like-minded people, share your insights with each other, and bet individually at first. If the profits start adding up, then you can go further and further and really try to become a real syndicate. Because eventually, it will make sense to pool the money together and make some special agreements, just like the syndicates do.
Examples of betting syndicates
For obvious reasons, most betting syndicates are not public. But there are a few examples. Tony Bloom’s Star Lizard is one, and Matthew Benham’s Smartodds are the most well-known syndicates within betting.