TAB's football World Cup option at long odds

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 12:24 28/05/2014

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Punters and New Zealand Football could be set for a financial windfall at the World Cup.

The TAB, which was operated by the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB), was offering $5 million to anyone who could pick the outcome of every game at the football World Cup.

The promotion, called 1 Shot at $5 million, was launched yesterday morning, and by 5pm 1500 people had signed up to play.

It was free to enter and required a person to correctly select the outcome of all 64 games at the tournament.

The top five most accurate selections would win $1000 each.

Stuff asked Auckland University of Technology mathematical science lecturer Robin Hankin to devise a statistical analysis to predict the chances of winning the big prize.

He said people would bring their own expert knowledge and analysis to it, but if you picked all the favourites to win - using the probability that 70 per cent of them would win - you would have a one in 8.2 billion chance of winning.

"To put this in context, you are 216 times more likely to win Lotto, including Powerball, than to get this right," he said.

"But of course it's much easier to form an opinion about the winner of a football match than the number on a ball, and football is much more fun to watch than a Lotto draw."

A series of random selections gave a person even less chance of a correct prediction, he said.

TAB bookie Mark Stafford said the task was difficult, but that was why $5m was on the line.

"We acknowledge that it's hard, but I still think it's doable," he said.

"Three-quarters of the 48 round-robin games, I found, were fairly straightforward to pick, and after that you would need a bit of luck."

The favourites for the tournament include defending champions Spain, hosts Brazil and perennial powerhouses Argentina, France, Germany and Italy.

Some of the dark horses include up-and-coming Belgium, Uruguay and Colombia.

One organisation that could expect a financial win from the World Cup is New Zealand Football (NZF), despite the All Whites not qualifying for the tournament.

The NZRB gives a percentage of its revenue back to the sport being bet on.

At the 2010 World Cup, which the All Whites competed at, NZF received more than $500,000 from the TAB for its cut of the $26m gambled on the tournament.

For a sporting organisation with average yearly revenue of about $10m, a funding boost of that size would be significant.

NZRB chief executive Chris Bayliss said the amount gambled on this World Cup was expected to be even higher than four years ago, meaning more money for NZF.

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"This World Cup will be played more in our time zone, rather than the middle of the night, so we expect more interest," he said.

"Last time, of the $26m we took on the tournament, only $2m of that was on the All Whites."

NZF chief executive Andy Martin said that money would help to boost the game in New Zealand.

"The contribution of the TAB makes a major difference to the development of our game at grassroots level, starting with our future All Whites and prospective Football Ferns," he said.

The opening match of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia is on June 13, and people have until midnight on June 12 to get their picks in for the $5m competition.

- Stuff

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