I have always followed, with very keen interest, the betting odds each year in the build up to the Eurovision Song Contest. I guess it dates back to 1989, when I first felt that I could probably do a better job of predicting the winner than the bookmakers, who in those years always without fail used to make the United Kingdom favourites (How times have changed now!).
I recall, in 1989 and again i 1990 that I had to rely on my dad to place a bet for me on the contest, as I was under 18. In those days it was impossible to place a bet before the actual day of the final, and even then the request caused all kinds of confusion and commotion in the betting shop as the staff clearly had no idea where to get the odds from, or had any interest from anyone else prior to me!. Despite my best efforts to persuade him to bet more on my behalf, my dad restricted me to a miserable £3 maximum bet in each year!. To make it worse, I had predicted Yugoslavia in 1989 and Italy in 1990 to win, both with odds of 14/1!. It's fair to say, that dad's limits were'nt too popular with me after those results came in!.
Developments with on line betting, and betting exchanges such as Betfair in recent years, have meant that it is much easier to place a bet, and indeed it's possible to make bets as early as March. The range of bets on offer is enhanced now too, you can not only try to predict the winner, but can bet on the countries you think may finish in the top 4 or top 10 and sometimes even in last place. Not to mention, you can play bookmaker on sites and set your own odds.
I do find though, it has become a little more difficult in recent years to predict the winner as early as March. Firstly, you could be betting on a song which is in the Semi-Finals. That makes your risk double edged, as you are in essence betting on it to win the contest, whereas technically it's not yet a finalist. The number of competing countries also makes it more difficult, to predict a winner of a 43 song contest so early is pretty tough. Performance and stage presentation can have a lot to do with the outcome, a song which impresses massively in a preview video and is a favourite, could not work out so well in a live stage performance and may end up not qualifying. And conversely, a song which may have escaped one's attention watching preview videos, could well stand out with an improved staging and become a contender.
And what do they think for 2008.......
Last week saw the emergence of the 2008 betting odds, most likely as a result of the preview videos becoming widely available on this site. And it's interesting to notice that unlike in previous years, there is a lot of agreement and a lot of similar odds available across the board with bookmakers. At the moment, Russia are favourites with the majority of companies. Serbia are favourite with a small number to repeat the success of 2007 and make it two in a row. They are closely followed by Armenia and Ireland. Major outsiders at the moment are Montenegro.
This I find is unusual, as in the past three or more years, there have been a lot of differences between bookmakers. I have a slight feeling that a lot of them are watching the likes of Betfair exchange, where typically people who have a very good knowledge of the Eurovision Song Contest are influencing the odds. And they all seem to be pegging their prices not too far away from that.
If you wish to check the latest odds across the board, follow the link for comparison site Oddschecker.
Of course, all forms of gambling are speculative, and nothing is guaranteed whatever event in the World anyone would choose to bet on. If anyone is thinking of placing a bet, my advice would be to only bet a small amount that you are prepared to comfortably lose, and then it's a bonus if the result turns out your way.