Sports betting and betting on major events like the Olympics is obviously a big deal, and has been for decades.

But there is another huge market for event betting that has become ever more popular over the last few years, and that is betting on reality TV shows.

Why bet on TV shows?
The regularity of these shows, with most of them being on at the same time of year, every year has made them into an annual event.

Shows like The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing herald the start of the autumn and the run up to Christmas for millions of people, and it has become almost a modern tradition to watch at least some of these series for a lot of people.

For many others, it's become something they absolutely devote their lives to for the duration of the series, and this is where betting comes in.

The X Factor betting
With final shows every Saturday and the sing off every Sunday, the X Factor is weekend event TV. It has cornered the market of an audience that is invested in everything about the show, from the format to the judges, and, of course, the contestants..

Many regions get behind 'their' contestants, and others are chosen due to their style, their back story or the character that has been created for them. It's commonly understood that the shows are manipulated by the editing and by the producers, but this has become part of the enjoyment in itself.

Speculating on who Simon Cowell wants to win is just as interesting as working out who you think has the best voice. It has moved away from a contest based on the voice, and is far more about the whole 'package' that is generated by the image given to the contestants.

Other shows and formats
Big Brother, the daddy of all the reality TV shows we have grown so used to, began the betting phenomenon. Until Big Brother began in 2000, there weren't any regular 'event' TV series that particularly suited betting, but as soon as this format was established - that of people being voted out on a regular basis - then betting became popular.

Other shows soon followed as the UK became saturated with reality TV shows, from I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here to Strictly Come Dancing, millions of people across the country have become invested in the outcome.

Reality TV - love it or loathe it - is phenomenally popular and regularly brings in audiences that no other type of TV show can achieve these days. In such a competitive market, to be able to regularly attract viewing figures of around 10 million at prime time weekends, is phenomenal and there is little doubt that the fact people bet on these shows adds to the sheer popularity.

They are also the kind of shows that attract viewers who may not intend to get hooked, but start to watch it and then become reeled in by the well developed formula.

These markets are all listed under the novelty or specials betting tab with bookmakers of which there are many. As well as reality TV betting there is also markets on awards ceremonies such as the BRIT awards, Sports Personality of the Year, Turner Prize and the Oscars among other prestigious awards. Around Christmas there's also specials betting on things like snow on Xmas day and most popular TV shows.

But reality TV is where the baulk of this betting is done. Bookmakers naturally have a huge captive audience with the popularity of these shows on TV and betting markets are often offered on the outright winner as well as the next eviction which can often be a very lively market. Top male and female markets are usually offered too not to mention individual special markets on the contestants. In the singing and dancing contests there are often markets regarding the judges too.

Specials betting is becoming more and more popular and the reason for that is there's a specials market that will appeal to everybody but as far as bookmakers and punting is concerned in this subject, they can't wait for September to come along for the beginning of Strictly and X-factor.