Staged since 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest attracts a large number of wagers every year in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Okay, it might not see as much interest throughout the year as a good New Zealand online casino, but betting activity usually spikes when the entrant countries have all announced their song choices and performers. Of course, there is still a long way to go with only the so-called ‘big five’ guaranteed a place in the final other than the hosts which, in 2020, is the Netherlands. What should New Zealanders – and anyone else from the English-speaking world – take on board about this year’s contest? Also, who do bookmakers from around the world think is the most likely country to win?
Given that Bulgaria has never scored a win in Eurovision history, the fact that many bookmakers have made that country favourites to win is exceptional. Followers of the competition might think that the Netherlands (which is already in the final thanks to its status as host) and its pedigree (having won on five previous occasions) means that it will be best placed to scoop the top prize. However, most bookies have the Dutch with only about a two per cent chance of winning again this year.
In fact, following Bulgaria’s entry – ‘Tears Getting Sober’ by Victoria – Iceland and Lithuania are the second and third-placed favourites. Icelandic entries may have come second twice before but the Scandinavian country has never taken the title. Lithuania, a relatively new entrant to the competition, has never won either. However, its two neighbouring Baltic states, Latvia and Estonia, both have claimed past victories. Perhaps the bookmakers are hearing the potential for similar success?
If you are looking for a favourite that has some pedigree with success, then check out Switzerland’s entry. Gjon Muharremaj, who is known professionally as Gjon’s Tears, will perform ‘Répondez-Moi’, a song he co-wrote with lyrics that are entirely in French. The Swiss singer is of Kosovar-Albanian descent and stands a good chance, especially given that Switzerland has twice before taken top place, once in 1956 and then again in 1988.
Until Bulgaria, Iceland, Lithuania and Switzerland have performed in their allotted semi-final places, no one will truly know how the public will react to these performers. Although the songs can all be streamed beforehand, many voters will make their mind up on the night. One off-key note can make all the difference at this stage and bookmakers are likely to adjust their odds rapidly as both semi-finals progress.
Before then, there are some interesting outside chances with looking at. For example, the British and Irish entries are both strong despite not being viewed as such by many bookmakers. As a country that helps to fund Eurovision, the UK also has the advantage of an automatic pass to the final in May. With twelve wins between them, both countries know how to win but they languish as distinct outsiders according to the majority of bookies, along with the likes of North Macedonia and Poland, countries which have never won. Of course, if you are looking for a real long shot, then those are available, too. Some bookies have Slovenia, Belarus and Croatia listed as 300 to 1 outsiders which can be tempting.
Bear in mind that you don’t have to bet on the winning entry either. There are other bets that bookmakers will accept if you don’t have a view on which song might edge it. Some bookmakers will accept a wager on a song that ends up in the top three, for example. Interestingly, several British bookies also offer odds on the UK’s entry scoring zero points on the night!