The $28 Million Goal: Bookmakers Celebrate as England Denied

  • Russia’s equalizer in Euro soccer tourney saves betting shops
  • ‘We breathed a huge sigh of relief,’ Ladbrokes spokesman says

The Russian goal that denied England victory in their opening Euro 2016 soccer game on Saturday may have saved Britain’s oddsmakers about 20 million pounds ($28 million).

For industry leader William Hill Plc, Vasili Berezutski’s last-gasp header was worth about 5 million pounds, a spokesman said. Instead of a 3 million-pound loss on the game, the company made a 2 million-pound profit, he said. Ladbrokes Plc estimated that the goal made a difference of about 2 million pounds to its outcome on the game.

Vasili Berezutski scores in Marseille.

Photographer: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

“Had England held on we’d be lamenting a dreadful start to the Euros,” Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams said by e-mail. “As it was, we breathed a huge sigh of relief.”

Ladbrokes, the U.K.’s second-biggest betting-shop operator, stands to lose about 1 million pounds for every game England wins in the early stages of the tournament, Chief Executive Officer Jim Mullen said last month. England winning the championships is the biggest single risk to profit this year, Mullen said.

Bookmakers are looking forward to a bonanza when England plays neighboring Wales on Thursday. William Hill estimates that about 30 million pounds will be wagered on the match across the industry, topping the Champions’ League final as the biggest betting game of the year so far.

Ladbrokes customers who bet on England to win Saturday’s game weren’t left entirely out of pocket. As a concession, the oddsmaker has offered bettors their money back if games involving England, Wales or Northern Ireland end in a tie.

Ladbrokes estimated that the Russian goal saved the industry about 20 million pounds. William Hill said it might be as much as 25 million pounds.

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