Politics has only recently made its way into the world of betting, but between Brexit, Trump, snap elections and the Scottish referendum, there are plenty of opportunities for people to take a punt on their political future.
In fact, for the past few years, identifying the ‘bookies favourite’ has been the route to success for political pundits looking for a steer. But if you think you can take your sports betting expertise and apply it to political betting – think again. This is a completely different type of bet, with different risks and limitations. Approach it with a clear head and you may be able to turn your political knowledge into cold hard cash.
What’s The Difference Between Political Betting and Sports Betting?
When you’re thinking about dipping a toe in the world of political betting, it’s important to remember one crucial thing: you’re dealing with people, not points.
Fundamentally, placing bets on sports and gaming can be broken down into hard facts and percentages. Right now, you can open a new browser window and historically look at how many goals a team has previously scored, the odds of cards being drawn from a deck or the form of a player before a match. This is all concrete information allows you to place an informed punt.
However, political betting depends on the most unreliable barometer of all – human nature.
Political punditry relies upon surveys, studies, and opinion polls; all of which have been proven to be hugely unreliable, especially in the wake of the 2016 political upheaval.
Recent analysis on the period has confirmed that even statistical information cannot be trusted. For example, the 2016 American Presidential election saw the term ‘leaners’ enter our vocabulary for the first time. When polled for their opinion, many Trump supporters failed to publicly admit to supporting the candidate, but would lean over the table when pollsters were gone and conspiratorially add: “Although, you know- “. In the UK, anyone who went by polls and conventional wisdom did not even consider a Brexit vote, but the people on the streets in Brexit-voting areas saw the evidence first hand.
There are so many options, opinions, and metrics to make sense of it can be almost impossible to get your head around it. But with upheaval comes opportunity, and punters have smelled it.
The EU referendum was publicised as the largest political betting event in British history with £40.5m gambled locally on the result and one woman losing £100,000 on a ‘remain’ bet. Meanwhile, the American election saw Betfair break the £200m barrier in bets on the next president and increasingly online sites are opening their doors to the world of political gambling.
What Are Some Of The Top Political Bets Going Forward?
Trump/Russia Scandal: His first 100 days in office have been marred by a series of scandals, but the Russian hacking allegations have caught the imagination of the entire world. Some betting sites have devoted an entire page to Trump and the various outcomes of the ongoing Russia investigation, while there are a series of alternative bets for Trump-watches to consider. Some solid picks include: which of his children will be first to condemn an action he takes as president; when (and why) will he be impeached; and whether or not he will confirm that he has had hair surgery (2/1 odds, incidentally).
French Election: The two front-runners are currently the pro-EU, socialist centrist Emmanuel Macron (1/8) and anti-EU Marine Le Pen (9/2) the now-former head of the far-right Front National. Neither politician was expected to make it this far, and they are polling surprisingly close to one another, considering the vast differences in their policies. With the result has the potential to deal an irreparable blow to the Eurozone, and the risk of mass-abstention from dissatisfied voters makes a possible Frexit more likely than it’s ever been.
The 2017 (formerly 2020) General Election: The recent British snap-election called by PM Teresa May has seen a flurry of bets, most of which focus on predicting a widening of the gap between the Tories and Labour and the fate of Jeremy Corbyn. Some sites are offering odds on a specific ‘Corbyn Exit Date’ and odds on a new party being formed from Labour rebels before the next election.
Irish Referendum: In the wake of recent gains made by Sinn Fein at Stormont in NI and Scotland’s calls for independence, ‘Border Poll’ for a reunified Ireland is becoming more popular. The odds currently stand at 9/2 for yes and 1/8 for no, but this could change depending on UK plans for the border, and the results of the next election.
Who’s Taking Political Bets?
If you want to place a punt on politics, here are some sites that are worth checking out.
Paddy Power: The famously tongue-in-cheek bookie has delved into the world of political punting headfirst with an international selection of contemporary offers. Despite having an ostensibly Irish focus – the majority of options are given over to Irish Politics – there is a range of international fare. These include the fate of the European Union and some Trump-specific one-offs, including the ‘Joe Biden Special’ where “Biden meets Trump at an event and punches him right in the face”.
William Hill: The site is primarily UK-led and focuses on the new markets opened by the recent snap election. Ending up with a conservative majority calls in at 1/8, a Lib-Dem majority stands at 28/1 and a Labour majority at 14/1. Hill does not offer as many one-off specials as other sites but it does get deeper into the minutiae of governance, covering rises to tax bands and rates along with a section detailing the next country to leave the EU, with Greece coming top of the list at 2/1, closely followed by Italy at 5/2 and France at 3/1.
What Should I Know?
Insider Knowledge: It’s worth noting that, in politics, if any information is held about a candidate or appointment it will likely leak, and bookies will benefit. This has famously happened historically with the Brit Awards, results of The Apprentice and the identity of the next doctor in ‘Doctor Who’. There are far fewer strictures in place for political information and intelligence gathering than there is for sport or horse-racing which means if you see a run on the polls – it’s potentially worth following.
Interesting Times: The phrase that ‘A week is a long time in politics has never been more apt, after a year in which a £1 accumulator bet on Trump being President, Brexit and Leicester winning the Premier League would have netted the punter a £4.5m return. So be careful any time you’re betting on an “absolute certainty” and remember that it’s always dangerous for money and your political opinion to go together.
Polls: Repeatedly, the polls have been proven incorrect but it’s worth remembering that there is a wealth of information about how best to understand the area you’re taking a punt on. The upheaval of 2016 has seen a rise in newscasters, bloggers and podcasts, and the mainstream media is now more politicised than ever before. If you can find a resource you can rely on, lean on it. The Betting Gods polls correctly predicted the 2015 General Election, the EU Referendum and the US Presidential Election so could well be worth following in future; https://www.bettinggods.com/our-2017-general-election-tips-and-poll-results/