The grey betting market in Asia offers loophole to be exploited

The gambling dens of Asia have a grubby reputation. The punter wanting to bet a few years ago in the streets of Jakarta or Hanoi would need a password for access to the bookies who had set up in the backroom of a karaoke bar. Or there was the mansion in the middle of the Malaysian jungle with a giant satellite dish on its roof beaming in football matches from around the world.

This subversive glamour is the past. The hideouts and holes have been replaced by gleaming office blocks, 24-hour call centres and websites, so that gamblers can get their bet on. Gambling in Asia has gone corporate.

Betting behemoths including SBO Bet — a name you might recognise from the shirts of West Ham United until last season — and IBC Bet have been granted licences by the Philippines to run their operations out of Manila.

Anti-corruption investigators call it “the grey market”, because while they unequivocally know the temperament of black and white markets, of this new industry they are unsure.

The grey market is used by match-fixers simply because they are able to stake unrestrained amounts in a faceless manner. An illegal black-market bookie has a limit to how much he can afford to lose and white-market firms such as Ladbrokes or William Hill restrict customers. A fixer could place $500 bets every second on the website of one of the licensed bookmakers from anywhere in the world.

An example, according to a source within SBO Bet, was an under-17 match in Scotland last year. The match was listed on the betting websites and almost $1 million poured in. A Barclays Premier League match will attract $60  million and an early kick-off involving two of the bigger clubs — because of the time difference — can rake in double that.

About 90 per cent of money wagered will be on the Asian handicap, a market that allows the team expected to win a “head start” of a quarter of a goal or more to the opposition. The rest of the money staked will go on over or under a certain amount of goals and the match result.

These three markets are the only ones of interest to the armies of bettors. It is a myth that there are weird and wonderful markets to be exploited by fixers such as the time of the first throw-in or number of corners. But what is the anatomy of match-fixing, an industry that yields $90 billion annually?

Once a fix is set up, the corruptors will either employ minions to place the wagers on the websites such as SBO or a broker company will be given the task of placing bets on a second-by-second basis. Armed with either the knowledge of the result or how many (and when) goals will be scored, the odds are manipulated in favour of the fixer.

It’s a lot like insider trading. A popular tactic of the syndicate is to put large sums for a goal between the 70th and 75th minute. A late penalty, if the referee is corrupted, is also popular. A high-street bookmaker is able to guard against such corruption because such a run of cash would be considered a suspicious betting pattern and betting would be stopped. For a company such as SBO, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness.

It owes its position and popularity because it never turns down a gamble on any sport. But when such massive sums are being placed on games that would be considered “small fry”, trying to find malpractice is akin to the search for a needle in a haystack.

However, it is debatable as to how hard investigators are looking. An FA investigation into claims of corruption in a Championship match between Norwich City and Derby County in 2008 faltered when licensed Asian bookmakers refused to reveal betting patterns.

Three betting markets in Asia

Asian handicap

The most popular form of betting in Asia. Teams are handicapped according to their form, so that a stronger team must win by more goals for a bet to be successful. Handicaps typically range from one-quarter goal to several goals, in increments of half or even quarter-goals.

Over/under goals

Gamblers are asked to guess whether there will be more than 2.5 goals in a match or fewer. Other “ranges” of goals are available to bet on. Thanks to odds changing second by second, the market offers a clear opportunity for fixers to make vast amounts if a team have agreed to concede only one goal.

Match odds

The wager which we are all most familiar. Who will win the match? Or will it be a draw? As simple as that.

Ed Hawkins is an award-winning betting journalist whose book Bookie, Gambler, Fixer, Spy: A Journey to the Heart of Cricket’s Underworld was shortlisted for the recent William Hill Sports Book of the Year

How Peer-to-Peer Lending Can Save You From Debt

Living in debt is never easy. Managing multiple payments and dealing with numerous creditors takes its toll on a debtor and can affect the whole family. To make keeping on top of your debt more straightforward, debt consolidation can be a lifesaver. One of the more popular debt consolidation loan options of the moment is to use peer-to-peer lending.

 

Peer-to-peer lending, otherwise known as social lending, works by bringing individual savers and borrows together to get better rates on their spare cash or debts. Debt consolidation loans at Zopa bring together lenders from all walks of life, from students and young professionals to pensioners and business owners. Borrowers in need of low rate loans are matched with savers who want high interest rates on their savings – both can make the most of rates they may not normally receive through a traditional bank.

 

A debt consolidation loan is one of the easiest ways to reduce your total debt cost. By taking a lump sum loan you can immediately pay off all your outstanding debts, leaving just the cost of one loan repayment to worry about each month from there on. With just one repayment, household budgeting is simpler and the cost of your total debt will be cheaper too. When paying the minimum payment for individual credit cards or hire purchase each month, you may be dealing with just the interest element of each debt. As soon as you consolidate your debt, you will only need to pay one, lower, interest rate on the full amount.

 

Peer-to-peer lending enables access to cash without even setting foot in a bank – a relief for those who have had stressful experiences dealing with finance professionals in the past. There’s a real sense of community when borrowing from your peers, for those who just hate traditional banking, its ideal. However you need to remember that with peer to peer borrowing it’s not suitable for everyone as there are tight criteria to fill.

 

Lenders must have a good track record of repaying debt in the past and need to be able to prove identity and a UK address history for at least 3 years. Using social lending providers like Zopa, you can apply online and have a team of underwriters make a decision for you in just 24 hours. If your application is successful your loan can be paid directly via BACS within just 3 days.

 

A bit about Zopa Peer-to-Peer Lending

Zopa is the leading social lending service in the UK. Launched in 2005, to date they have lent over £434 million with over 45,000 active lenders signed up and 71,000 borrowers. Social lending, also called peer-to-peer lending which you see referenced above, is the practice of lending money to unrelated individuals, or theoretical peers, but without either the lender or the borrower going through a traditional financial intermediary such as a bank. Zopa are one of the UK’s leading peer to peer lending sites, matching individuals willing to loan money with borrowers looking to borrow money for things such as debt consolation.

Zopa were voted Moneywise’s ‘Most Trusted Personal Loan Provider’ for the past 4 years.

Saving levels are back on top – but how can we keep them there?

The country is finally beginning to recover from the effects of the economic recession. It has been a long, hard slog, but things are improving and people are starting to think once more about building their savings instead of struggling to pay the bills every month.

According to NS&I’s Quarterly Savings Survey, the amount of money Brits are storing away has increased to over £100 per month. For last winter (2013), the average British saver put £101 aside – £3 more than they saved that autumn and £13 more than that spring.

In relation to income, women save a higher percentage of their salaries than men – 8.36% against 7.84% – and the overall trend is that saving levels are at their highest point for sometime (although shockingly almost a fifth of both men and women still fail to put regular money aside each month).

While saving levels being back on top is good news for everyone, the most important thing to consider is how you can keep them there.

It’s good to save

Putting money aside for a rainy day is something we all should do – but sadly not everyone lives by this simple rule and too many people spend everything they earn. Having a decent amount of savings in the bank will act as a safety net in the event something unexpected happens. After all, we never know what life is going to throw at us, so have you considered how you would cope if the car broke down or you lost your job?

Stick to a sensible budget

It is impossible to save if most of your income is frittered away on gym memberships, meals out, clothes, holidays and all the other things you can live without. If saving money is proving to be a tough cookie, you need to start budgeting.

Start by cutting back on luxury expenses and look for cheaper alternatives to your favourite hobbies. Invest in a second hand exercise machine to bring the gym into your home or go for long walks and runs in the outdoors for free. Limit the number of meals you have out to only cover special occasions and sell clothes you no longer want or need to afford new ones. You can also holiday with friends or family to cut costs on your trips away.

Set yourself a sensible budget that is manageable for your situation and invest excess money in a savings account. It’s important to be practical when setting your budget as trying to live on a pittance will only affect your chances of successful saving and thus impact your motivation.

Reduce debt

Being in debt makes it difficult to put money aside for a rainy day. One way to minimise the impact of debt is to restructure it so that you pay less in interest. A consolidation loan is a good way of dealing with debt as it lumps small debts under one umbrella and reduces your monthly payments in the process. A poor credit history can make securing a consolidation loan difficult so you may want to consider guarantor loans such as those offered by Buddy Loans where a family member, friend or work colleague stands as guarantor for the money you borrow.

You can also use these loans for unexpected costs or emergencies – something which will stop you dipping into your savings and ruining all your hard work!

Which horse will you back on Grand National day?

Although having a bet on the horses goes against the grain for most people who choose to live a frugal lifestyle, many will make an exception this Saturday – 5th April – when the Grand National takes place.

The Grand National is renowned for being one of the hardest steeple chase races in the horse racing calendar. It was first run in 1839, and apart from the World War years and in 1993, the race has been staged every year. This year will be the 167th Grand National and the prize fund is a record £1million.

It is estimated that between £40m and £80m is bet on the Grand National every year. And if you join www.betfair.com you can get a free £50 bet when you place your first bet on the sports book. Betfair is also offering a £10 refund for any Grand National bets placed on horses that don’t complete the race; which, given the uncertainty of the race’s outcome, is a generous offer!

There are different schools of thought when it comes to narrowing down the field to choose a National winner. The majority of people will not consider the form or stats. Instead, they’ll choose a name that has significance for them – and with so many names to choose from that’s not hard. Before Saturday, you’ll get better prices with antepost betting than you will on the day of the race, but remember, there’s a possibility that you’ll be backing a non-runner.

However, if you do take the statistics of previous Nationals into consideration, you could narrow down the field to realistic chances. In the last three decades, 80% of winning National horses have been aged 9, 10 or 11. Weight is also very relevant in this handicap race – the heavier the weight, the ‘better’ the horse’s form. The average winning weight for the National in the last thirty years has been around 10stones, but many of the recent winners have carried more than this. Just bearing these two stats in mind could help you eliminate some of the longer shots, and give you a reasonable chance of picking the Grand National winner.

8 Brainy Ways To Cut Down Your Spending

Hi everyone, I am Amy Matt. I see my life through a frugal lens because there was a time in my life when my finances were going crazy and I had no clue what to do! That’s when I started exploring the personal finance dimension. I am happy to be here today @ Winning Back.

“Either you are a master of your money or a slave to it. Use your mind and have fun,” says Sharon Lechter, CPA, and co-author with financial guru and New York Times bestselling author Robert Kiyosaki. The following eight suggestions will set you on a new, smarter path to dealing better with your money.

Make A Budget

Yep. You have heard that one before. So now is the time to finally do it. Just try it, if only to achieve a snapshot of what you’ve been missing.

A budget is all about getting your finances under control. It is about understanding how much money you make, and understanding where it is going. It’s brainy because it requires an intelligent effort to make an honest analysis, and face the fire. It also places you above 66 percent of the population (De Groote, 2013) who do not budget.

Accountants, and accounting firms like ForthsOnline in UK have been witness to the harms of ignoring this crucial step. Poor spending habits, and not taking care of your finances can make things ugly, quickly.

The Internet is teeming with tools that you can use to get your budget arranged.

Find some free tools at www.mint.com/free, and www.manilla.com.

 

 

Utilize Lists

Lists are simple tools that build discipline. By thinking about and writing down what you need while on your shopping trip you will avoid impulsive purchases, which add up over the long-term, and increase your personal transaction average. Filling a list can also save you on fuel costs. You won’t be going to the store so often for forgotten items, will you?

It’s brainy because it requires forethought, and a disciplined decision to take account of what you have, and what you need. A disciplined shopping trip will make you

feel more secure in your finances, and therefore in yourselves. On a side note never go grocery shopping when hungry.

Time To Pack A Lunch

The money you will save from packing lunch for work will add up quickly. Given that eating out for lunch with your colleagues is a good way to network, if you are feeling a pinch in the wallet, the $30 to $45 per week average expense can be cut in half with a bag lunch. That leftover money can go to reducing your debts, or become part of a different section of your budget.

It’s brainy because bringing lunch from home has other benefits, including healthier eating which has numerous positive effects – inside the workplace, and out.

Carry Snacks

Eating out is such a large expense that it garners another mention. Vending machines are expensive. Even more costly than that are convenience stores who are charging an average of $1.19 for a single candy bar. Keep snacks on you at all times to curb the impulse to grab a quick bite.

It’s brainy because it requires forming a habit of throwing a snack and a water bottle into your purse before you leave the house. Stashing, and keeping the snack supply stocked at home and at work becomes a life habit, and will save you thousands.

Unsubscribe

Do you have email subscriptions for newsletters, sales alerts, and ads from your favorite retailers, and stores? There is a link within every message, often in small print at the very bottom of the email that allows you to unsubscribe. Unsubscribing is a step in the process of getting out of the mindset that shopping a sale for something you do not need is saving money. It’s not saving money because money is going out of your pocket.

It’s brainy because even if you trash or ignore the majority of those emails, it only takes one to get you into the store and impulse buying. Taking care to avoid temptation is smart.

Buy It Used

The value of the majority of merchandise declines rapidly once it’s been taken out of the store. If you shop thrift stores or the occasional yard sale the quality of the items often surprise you. In a thrift store it is the job of the employees to sort the good from the bad, and place the good items on the racks.

U.S. News and World Report (2012) has a segment on thrift that lists 16 items you should never buy new, in case you want somewhere to start.

Buying used is brainy because it takes a conscious decision to drop out of the consumer mindset of good things are only good when new, and save yourself considerable money by shopping second-hand.

 

Take A Second Look

There is a good chance your services can be renegotiated to a smaller bill. Cable, mobile carriers, and Internet providers have several options available to fit within your budget. If they do not have other options consider either switching, or cutting off the services altogether. That extra few dollars a month can go a long way to helping you live more comfortably. Consider switching from cable to Netflix, and Hulu subscriptions. Added together they are a mere $16.98 per month.

To keep you utility costs down mind the lights. Turn off all unnecessary lights and appliances. Consider using energy friendly light bulbs. Plug the leaks in your windows. Put a stopper underneath your door. Just the smallest bit of extra insulation adds up to dollars saved every month. Tape the joints of your ducts to seal any leaks. This will also reduce your heating bill.

It’s brainy because it requires you to take measure of the effect of a burning light, and spurns you to action on things that have escaped your notice for years. It helps you think differently about how you live, and empowers you to take control of your expenses.

Rent

Renting has become a huge industry. You can rent anything from hedge clippers to home entertainment. Thanks to the rental industry you can forego innumerable expensive acquisitions until you have properly saved enough to buy them.

It’s brainy because renting allows you to test the merchandise without worrying about returns, warranties, and the big hole in your bank account.

 

 

So . .

Whether you are hurting financially, or just looking for ways to cut back your spending the previous eight suggestions will provide results you will notice. The trick you will have to worry about is what to do with the money you save. Stick to these eight suggestions and you’ll know the best use for that money.

 

 

References

De Groot, M. (2013, January 3). New Gallup poll shows two-thirds of Americans do not budget | Deseret News. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865581100/New-Gallup-poll-shows-two-thirds-of-Americans-do-not-budget.html?pg=all

Kossman, S. (2013, July 10). 10 Ways to Cut Your Spending This Week – US News. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-ways-to-cut-your-spending-this-week/13