The world of sports betting is an exciting one, with fortunes made and lost in single matches, and stories of great success and failure making the news outlets on a regular basis. However, win or lose, the truth is that most sports bettors bet out of hobby and don’t see their bets as much more than random gambles. In fact, most people don’t even really care too much if the win or lose at sports betting as long as it makes watching the matches more exciting.
- Betting syndicates are among the rare groups that beat the bookies
- Groups of gamblers have been pooling their funds for decades
- Famous betting syndicates included math geniuses and criminals on ocassion
That said, there are those out there who do care, and these include the people behind the betting syndicates, organized sports betting rings that bet on their favorite sports week in and week out and are able to consistently beat the bookies for a steady profit. While many bettors operate on their own, the advantage of betting syndicates is in the fact that they are able to pool together large sums of money from all their members and make lots of bets for large amounts every week.
Betting syndicates have been around for decades, almost as long as sports betting has been around itself. These organizations have been linked to some of the biggest winning streaks in the history of betting, as well as some of the biggest match fixing scandals that ever happened. While many of them operate in the shadows so as not to attract the attention of the bookies, others are operating openly and in the spotlight with no regard of what anyone may think.
Many people out there deny the existence of betting syndicates and especially their success as they believe that sportsbooks cannot really be beat. This is why we decided to investigate more, find the stories of the biggest betting syndicates of all times and once and for all remove the curtain of mystery from these organizations. These are the stories of the most successful and biggest betting syndicates in the history.
1. Jimmy Gauld and the 1960s Scandal
Ended: Due to arrests
Not all the stories of betting syndicates are stories of success and the one of Jimmy Gauld is one of the oldest and most infamous ones. Back in the 60s, English football was just as popular but also a lot less regulated. This kind of an atmosphere naturally led to some people trying to take advantage and it was in 1964 that a huge scandal broke out in the UK media about a syndicate of football players who had been betting and fixing matches in the top ranks of the competition.
At the center of the story was Jimmy Gauld, an English player who had played for Plymouth, Swindon and Mansfield Town and who was apparently the mastermind of the whole operation. It occurred to Gauld that with the help of some colleagues from other clubs, he could set up a number of matches in the league and thus make lots of money for himself and others in the syndicate.
Gauld proceeded to approach a number of players including David Layne of Sheffield Wednesday and Ken Thompson who was playing at Hartlepool United to help him set up his syndicate. Eventually, the syndicate included at least 10 players who were betting against their own clubs, throwing matches in favor of their opponents and making profits. The tune to which the syndicate profited from the scheme was never revealed.
Eventually, it was Thompson who spilled the beans on the entire operation for the media, which later led to the arrest and imprisonment of 10 players including Gauld, who was sentenced to four years in prison. The rest of the syndicate each received between 4 months and a year and a half in prison and they were all banned from playing football in England ever again. This was an inglorious end to one of the world’s first and definitely not the best betting syndicate.
2. The Computer Group
Age: 1970s – 1980s
Winnings: Tens of Millions
Legality: Partially Legal (Evaded Taxes)
Ended: Due to arrests
One of the biggest and most successful betting syndicates and the first one to ever use computers and statistics to beat the bookies became known to the world as the Computer Group. The Computer Group was started in 1979, when a man by the name of Michael Kent, a government contractor and math genius was able to create a computer program that would analyze the statistics of football matches.
Kent stumbled upon his program by chance, trying to improve the results of his softball team. The more he improved his program, the clearer it became to Kent that he could potentially use it to beat the bookmakers at their own game. In 1979, he left his job, moved to Vegas and started his full time career as a gambler.
It did not take Kent long to start booking wins and making money. The first year was rough, but as his program became better, the profits became steadier. The need to stay out of the public eye with such large amounts of cash made Kent look for help, which he found in a man by the name of Ivan Mindlin. Mindlin was a long term gambler and when he realized what Kent had, he was quick to jump on board.
The pair started making profits together, with Mindlin being the guy placing the bets and Kent being the one using his program to decide which bets to make. However, as time went by, Mindlin started to expand the operation without Kent knowing and making loads of money on his own, with people across US placing bets on his behalf.
It took years before FBI started snooping around the operation. However, in 1985, federal agents raided multiple offices and locations connected to the Computer Group and ended up arresting Mindlin and Kent. While FBI suspected that the pair was working with Italian Mafia and tempering with betting lines, they were completely unable to prove it, probably because it was not true. Despite that, the entire group failed to pay any taxes on millions in winnings that they had made, which would mean jail time for both if found guilty.
Once Kent had realized that Mindlin was working behind his back, he agreed to work with the FBI, shut the operation down and give them all the inside info. Of course, they also had to pay their taxes. Kent went on to form a smaller gambling operation that ran until the mid-1990s, while Mindlin also reported using the program Kent created many years after the end of the Computer Group.
3. William Walters’ Betting Syndicate
Age: 1970s – 2000s
Winnings: Tens of Millions
Ended: Still Operational
Believed to be the most successful sports bettor of all time, William T. Walters is believed to have won hundreds of millions of dollars as the leader of the biggest betting enterprise of all time. Originally born in Kentucky in a poor neighborhood, Walters was able to crush the bookmakers for decades, allegedly never having a losing year and operating a business that seems to be beating the game straight up.
Walters’ betting syndicate has been operating for decades, but he prefers to keep the operation somewhat secretive. Some members of his syndicate are known, but for the most part it is Walters who is the face of the operation. His tremendous success has made him a subject to many state and federal investigations over the years, but they all failed to find any proof of wrongdoing on his part.
The main reason for Walters to keep his betting syndicate alive seems to be that single punters are not allowed to bet more than $20.000 in most Las Vegas bookmakers on a single NFL match. This is why Williams employs others to place bets on his behalf, while he himself designs the bets and instructs the group. Furthermore, the syndicate bets with offshore bookies, just like many other betting syndicates do and the group appears to be successful on both fronts.
Despite all the investigations into his business, Williams is not too shy to talk about it. Over the years he has done many interviews with major media outlets talking about his success with seemingly nothing to hide. While many have tried to replicate his betting system and find out what he is doing to win, none have succeeded to date. Williams’ operation was reported of winning over 60% NFL bets in their most successful season to date, while their average appears to be at about 55%. As Williams said, the difference between 52% and 55% win rate is equal to swimming across the Atlantic Ocean, and we believe him 100%.
4.Starlizard: Professional Betting Consultancy
Winnings: Hundreds of Millions
Ended: Still Operational
The biggest betting syndicate in the world today is run by a man by the name of Tony Bloom. Born in Brighton, England, and carrying the nickname “Lizard” for his cool posture at the poker tables, where he used to make lots of his gambling profits, Bloom is an expert in mathematics and probability and what you may call a genius in many ways.
Bloom has always been around gambling as he admits himself, having started gambling at a very young age. With such a sharp mind, he soon realized that you could actually win at gambling or at least at some forms of it, including poker and sports betting.
After many years of beating some of the best poker players in the world at the high stakes tables, Bloom decided that there was more money to be made in sports betting so he founded Starlizard. Officially, the company uses advanced statistical models to create betting odds that are more accurate than those used by the bookies, which are then sold to high stakes clients from all over the world. A bit less officially, Tony runs a betting syndicate which is reported to win over $150 Million in a good year by betting on Tony’s predictions.
You may be wondering, if he is so successful, why does he need a syndicate? The reality is that Tony’s syndicate places hundreds of millions in bets every year and the swings that inevitably come with sports betting are huge. This is why Starlizard was founded as a way for Bloom to ensure that he can never lose too much even in a losing year, which he is yet to have according to reports.
Starlizard seems to be placing huge bets for many high roller clients as well as bets of their own with the rich Asian bookmakers who are willing to take their action. The members of the syndicate share in Tony’s profits but are obligated to refill the bankroll in case of a losing period. To date, it seems that no one who was a part of Starlizard ever complained about losing any money, so it seems that Tony’s business is doing extremely well. To top it all off, Tony is also the owner of Brighton & Hove Albion FC, who just got promoted to England’s Premiership, so things could not be going any better for the famous gambler.