Weight Loss Betting: Where the Losers Are the Winners

Weight Loss Betting

News broke last week that William Hill has finally suspended its popular weight loss betting markets after being taken to the cleaners by skilled dieters. From the 1990s on up to very recently, punters could stop by any William Hill betting shop for a weight measurement and then take out a bet on shedding a few unnecessary pounds.

The good news is William Hill is reportedly in the process of reinstating their weight loss wagers. A spokesman for William Hill told Totally Gaming just last week that they are “in the process of getting the moratorium lifted.”

In speaking on their decision to pause their weight loss markets on hold, William Hill explained that the wagers are simply costing them too much money. People have been getting better at losing weight and apparently the oddsmakers have been underestimating peoples’ motivation to actually drop the weight and win the bet.

A quick Google search reveals why William Hill had to put their markets on hold for a bit; stories abound of punters winning as much as 10-1 on significant weight loss wagers and then coming through with the victory after successfully slimming down. A representative of William Hill recently put it best when he said “we’ve paid out pounds and pounds to people losing pounds and pounds.”

Just the latest example of a big bet paying off comes courtesy of Dr. Libby Collins, who placed a £50 bet with William Hill that she could lose 70 lbs in one year. She took the bet at 50-1 odds and then went out and made it happen. One year later, the 37-year-old doctor and mother of two was down 75 lbs and collected her £2,500 payout from William Hill.

The people at William Hill were good sports about the losing bet, saying that “both underwent the loss of many pounds, but only one of us did so profitably.” Libby Collins may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, as William Hill dropped their weight loss markets shortly after paying out her winning bet late last month.

If William Hill does indeed reinstate its weight loss markets, it would probably be safe to bet you won’t see them offering 100-1 odds on massive weight loss bets nearly as often. It will be sad to see those sky-high odds plummet, but getting paid anything to lose weight isn’t exactly a bad deal. The weight loss is rewarding on its own; getting paid is just a bonus. Plus, there’s the motivational factor of knowing that you will either lose money or lose pounds when taking a weight loss bet.

Does Weight Loss Betting Work?

it may almost sound unhealthy to bet money on losing weight, but research suggests that the immediate rewards offered by betting on weight loss are more effective motivators than far-off rewards such as improved health or lower insurance premiums. Even weight loss bets, in which payouts only happen after months, offer a sense of immediacy as the wager is put in play from the beginning.

Furthermore, there are some indications that penalties can act as even greater motivators than rewards in certain situations. Real money weight loss bets offer the best of three worlds: immediacy, a potential for reward and a potential for loss. Combine all three, plus the background knowledge that what you’re doing is ultimately good for your health, and you can imagine why so many people turn to weight loss betting sites for a little extra incentive to get down to a healthy weight.

If you’re still feeling skeptical, this study from Mayo Clinic in 2013 put these exact theories to the test in a real-life weight loss study. In the study, Mayo Clinic researchers set up a weight loss plan and goals for 100 participants over the course of a year.

50 of the participants were given no financial incentives, 25 were given financial rewards for meeting monthly goals and 25 faced financial penalties for failing to meet their goals. All 50 participants in both financial incentives groups were also eligible to win a share of a prize pool at the end of the study.

The study ultimately found that 62% of participants in either financial incentives group completed the weight loss program compared to just 26% for participants in the non-incentives group. Furthermore, those in either financial incentives group lost 4x as much weight as those in the non-incentives group.

Interestingly, completion rates were significantly higher even for those involved in the group that only faced financial penalties. The conclusion here is that people are more likely to meet their weight loss goals if they face a reward or a penalty than those who with no financial incentive either way.

Online Weight Loss Betting

William Hill’s weight loss markets were always offered in-person at physical betting shops, but there are actually websites where you can bet on weight loss online. Each weight loss betting site does it a bit differently, but the basic concept is the same across the board: you bet real money on your ability to lose real weight.

What’s cool about weight loss betting is the success or failure of your wager is entirely in your hands. When you bet on sports, you rely on outcomes athletes over whom you exercise no control. In fact, this is a key distinction for legal reasons as well. Diet wagers are not considered illegal gambling in many jurisdictions. For example, the three biggest diet betting sites are all legal in the USA, which prohibits online sports betting.

There are three major diet betting sites in operation today. Here’s the basic rundown on each:

  • Dietbet.com: You and others join a group and pool your money. Those who reach their goals split the prize pool.
  • HealthyWage.com: You input your starting weight, desired weight, time-frame to reach your goal and an amount of money you wish to wager each month over the course of the challenge. HealthyWage.com calculates your payout based on the information provided and then you can decide if you wish to take the challenge.
  • StickK.com: You choose a goal (can be weight loss or anything else), put some money on the line and pick someone you trust to monitor and verify your progress. If you win, you recoup your money. If you lose, your money is donated to charity. StickK works on more of an honor system than other sites.

That’s the general idea behind each site, but you can see our previous post on weight loss betting for more details on each site. Note how that original post is over two years old now, but all three sites are running strong. Apparently, the market for online weight loss betting is going strong to this day.

Is it easy to cheat at a weight loss betting site?

It’s not as easy to cheat at weight loss betting as you might think. Both DietBet and HealthyWage have systems in place that are effective at ensuring everyone is playing by the rules. Both only accept verified weigh-ins and take certain steps to verify that your weigh-ins are legitimate.

Furthermore, they occasionally audit random users to ensure everyone is playing by the rules. Both sites also have actual human referees who go over weight loss submissions to look for signs of any funny business.

StickK.com is easier to cheat as it works on the honor system, but StickK also does not offer prizes above and beyond your original investment. Thus, you would have nothing to gain by gaming the system. Cheating at StickK would only be cheating yourself.

Even if some industrious cheater did find a way to game the system at any diet betting site, this is not an easy way to win a bunch of money. Between the verified weigh-ins and extended time-frames given for reaching goals, there simply is not a lot of money to be won just by cheating at diet betting. The number one selling point of these sites is motivation for weight loss; the money comes second.

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