Betting 101: The Inside Word on … the Commonwealth Games

Updated: July 15, 2014

For sports-starved punters, desperately seeking another dose of punters’ rush after the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup, the Commonwealth Games may not get the blood rushing. However, dig below the surface and some interesting punting opportunities start to emerge, which could make the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (starting next week) worth a closer look.


Clyde (pictured), the imaginatively named Glasgow 2014 mascot, can't wait for the Commonwealth Games to kick-off in the Scottish city next week

Clyde (pictured), the imaginatively named Glasgow 2014 mascot, can’t wait for the Commonwealth Games to kick-off in the Scottish city next week

The Commonwealth Games are something of an oddity. To be frank, we’re not even sure how to explain their existence. The so-called Commonwealth of Nations is a loose conglomerate of nations that were once part of the British Empire. It was formally declared in 1949 and comprises 53 nations representing every continent. The more prominent members include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and India along with tiny nations the likes of Nauru, Belize, Brunei, Kiribati and Tuvalu. There’s also a significant African representation that features Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda, which has no historical links to the British Empire!

The Games were first held under the banner of the British Empire Games in 1930, and have been held every four years since (with the exception of 1942 and 1946). It’s recognised as the world’s third largest multi-sport festival behind the Olympics and Asian Games. As opposed to the Olympics, the Home Nations of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – send separate teams. The Games return to the UK for the first time since Manchester was the host city in 2002, with this year’s edition scheduled for Glasgow, Scotland from July 23 to August 4. The next Commonwealth Games will be held on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018.

The line-up of 17 sports is equally eclectic. The list of sports available for the Commonwealth Game are split into three categories – core sports, recognised and optional. The core sports include several Olympic staples (athletics, swimming/diving, boxing, hockey, weightlifting and badminton) but also several sports that have almost certainly never been proposed at IOC level, including lawn bowls, netball, Rugby sevens and squash. The hosts also have the ability to add sports from an “optional” list so Glasgow will also host cycling, gymnastics, judo, shooting, table tennis, triathlon and wrestling.


The black list

There are certain sports that we advise punters to avoid altogether – Commonwealth Games or not. Sports that rely heavily on a judge’s subjective opinion such as boxing, diving and gymnastics should be a no-go zone. We’ll also never bet sports that have a history of systematic doping like road cycling and, by extension, we also won’t touch track cycling and triathlon. Sports like judo, badminton, wrestling, table tennis, shooting and judo are also too niche to generate much meaningful data. The other problem with betting niche sports is the difficulty actually getting a bet on. Anything above a relatively small wager will immediately be flagged by the bookmaker.


Does it matter?

For competitors in some sports, the Commonwealth Games count for a couple of weeks’ holiday and not much else. Take swimming, for example. The majority of competitors will be aiming for the FINA World Championships in Qatar later this year rather than the Commonwealth Games due to their training regime. In contrast, track and field athletes have already competed in nine of the 14 Diamond League events scheduled for this season (with the most recent held in Glasgow) so this will be the “grand final” for athletes from the Commonwealth nations.


Yes it does matter!

Netball is a sporting oddity. It’s massively popular in Commonwealth nations and fiercely contested among the elite nations of Australia, England, New Zealand and several West Indians nations. Only South Africa will miss this tournament among the top rated nations. There is no World Championship in netball until 2015, so the battle for the gold medal will be fierce. Exposed form isn’t difficult to find and there should be excellent value in Glasgow. For some reason, punters steer clear of this exclusively female sport. We’re fans, and will include next season’s ANZ Championship as part of our regular coverage.


Specialise your betting

Do you really think bookmaking forms have vast departments of staff dedicated to handicapping lawn bowls or table tennis? We can assure you that they do not. One book will generally set the odds with others simply following suit once the markets have been posted. There won’t be betting on all sports, but there should be enough of a spread for you to attack the books at their most vulnerable. Take for instance, track athletics. Competitors have been in action over recent months in Diamond League competition so you can take a handful of events, research recent results and form, consult some expert opinion and take on the books.


Follow the elite

In some sports, the level of competition in the Commonwealth Games is decidedly second-tier. What does a gymnastics tournament look like without east Asian or eastern European competitors? Well, it looks like the Commonwealth Games! Contrast this with the lawn bowls tournament, where just one of the world’s top 10 ranked men’s players hails from a non-Commonwealth nation. Or Rugby Sevens, where seven of the world’s top 10 nations will be in action and regularly compete against each other in international-standard events.


Note: We’re closely examining the available Commonwealth Games markets and may offer limited previews depending on the opportunities that emerge when the Games start next week.


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