Italy has previously participated in 42 Eurovision Song Contests, including the first one, and has won it twice – once in 1964 and once in 1990. It has therefore been over a quarter of a century since the nation’s last win, but Italy withdrew from the competition between 1998 and 2010, so that particular observation isn’t quite as discouraging as it may sound. It does, however, raise the question of why bookmakers have decided that Italy should be viewed as the current favourites for 2017.
The answer is actually quite simple. Italy is being represented by Francesco Gabbani, who won the main section of the 2017 Sanremo Musical Festival, just one year after winning the newcomer section of the same festival in 2016. Gabbani’s performance of the song ‘Occidentali's Karma’ not only won him this year’s competition, but it also attracted worldwide attention, and his Youtube video of the song has received over 65 million views since February.
If popular opinion is anything to go by, all of that should give Italy a fantastic shot at winning the Eurovision Song Contest, and would fully justify the odds of 11/8 that are currently being offered by bookmaker William Hill. Of course, this contest often also includes a political element, so Gabanni’s success in Eurovision is far from being a foregone conclusion.
Bettors who would like to select a likely winner according to past performance rather than current musical form will be interested to hear that Ireland is the most successful country in this competition, with a total of seven wins, the most recent of which was achieved in 1996. Sweden has won six times, France, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom have notched up five wins each, and the Netherlands have won four times.
As far as the odds at William Hill are concerned, Sweden have been installed as the 7/1 second favourites, and most recently won Eurovision in 2015. Belgium, who have won just once, in 1986, are the joint 8/1 third favourites, along with Bulgaria, who have yet to win. All other participating nations are currently being offered at odds of 12/1 or bigger.
We won’t know whether or not the bookmakers have called this competition right for a few months yet, so if you fancy siding with Italy to justify their favouritism, or opposing them with any other nation, visit William Hill to explore the full range of odds, and good luck with your bets!