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The utility of gambling and the favourite-longshot bias

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  • Michael Cain
  • David Peel

Abstract

The traditional explanation for the usual favourite-longshot bias in gambling is that gamblers are risk-lovers. Conditions are derived under which the bias occurs and it is shown to be consistent with a utility function that has elasticity greater than one in a certain range. With a utility function that displays risk-aversion as well as risk-loving behaviour over its domain, it is demonstrated that the expected return-win probability frontier is not monotonic as has been hitherto tacitly assumed. This provides a consistent explanation for both the usual favourite-longshot bias and also for the few examples where a reverse bias has been observed. Pooled data supports the thesis that the frontier is not completely monotonic but does indeed have a turning point.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The European Journal of Finance.

Volume (Year): 10 (2004)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 379-390

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Handle: RePEc:taf:eurjfi:v:10:y:2004:i:5:p:379-390

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Related research

Keywords: betting markets; risk-return frontier; reverse bias;

References

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  1. Woodland, Linda M & Woodland, Bill M, 1994. " Market Efficiency and the Favorite-Longshot Bias: The Baseball Betting Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(1), pages 269-79, March.
  2. Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279.
  3. Kanto, Antti J. & Rosenqvist, Gunnar & Suvas, Arto, 1992. "On utility function estimation of racetrack bettors," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 491-498, September.
  4. Busche, Kelly & Hall, Christopher D, 1988. "An Exception to the Risk Preference Anomaly," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(3), pages 337-46, July.
  5. Linda M. Woodland & Bill M. Woodland, 2001. "Market Efficiency and Profitable Wagering in the National Hockey League: Can Bettors Score on Longshots?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 983-995, April.
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