Political betting introduction
Political betting has grown significantly in popularity in recent times, with huge events such as the UK’s European Union membership referendum on Brexit in 2016 being one of the biggest political moments in decades.
Trying to forecast the outcome of the Brexit vote it was widely predicted by polling companies, experts, financial markets and bookmakers on political betting websites that the remain side would win. Indeed even right up through the night as the votes were counted exit polls were indicating a defeat for leave and there was huge value in the political betting odds on a leave victory. How wrong the experts turned out to be. Some very tidy profits would have been made by the streetwise punters who sensed the true public sentiment.
The result led to numerous further political betting markets opening up as the United Kingdom’s leaders and opposition parties meandered through the tricky ‘leave process’. General elections, negotiations, deals failing to get through parliament, delayed leaving dates and numerous resignations of leading political figures all provided big movements and significant opportunity for clued-up punters on UK politics betting selections.
Also in 2016 came the remarkable rise to power of Donald Trump. He was a big outsider to even become the Republican Nominee in the build-up to the election and those backing him to become president early in his rise to political prominence would have made a tidy profit backing the controversial New Yorker. Trump was widely expected to lose the presidential election with odds as high as 3/1 (4.00), 4/1 (5.00) and 5/1 (6.00) still available on a Trump victory in the days and weeks leading up to the elections.
Prices had fluctuated significantly in the months preceding the election as scandals enveloped both Trump and his opponent Hilary Clinton – the Democratic Nominee. However, Trump triumphed against the odds and took a shock victory to become the 45th U.S. president, having had no prior public service and as the oldest person ever to take power for a first presidential term. He lost the public vote by a record 2.87 million (the highest ever for a winning president) but took power by gaining victory in the Electoral College, having taken significant wins in the crucial Rust Belt region.
With the big UK bookmakers, they offer politics betting odds on various markets, including domestic politics, Irish politics, European politics, U.S. politics and London mayoral elections, in addition to certain often quirky political ‘specials’.
With the major political betting websites in the UK markets available include next Conservative Leader, next Labour Leader, next Liberal Democrat Leader, next Prime Minister, next Scottish first minister, the gender of the next Prime Minister and the Year of next General Election.
You can also find odds on markets such as when will the next Scottish Independence Referendum take place and what the result of such a poll would be. Given the instability and surprise caused by Brexit some innovative bookmakers such as Betfair now offer prices on markets such as next UK region to hold an independence referendum (without counting Scotland).
Northern Ireland is the favourite at an odds on price, followed by Wales at around 4/1 or 5.00, but the odds on regions such as London (8.00), Isle of Wight (17.0), Cornwall (21.0) or Merseyside (26.0) holding such votes do not suggest that the possibilities are really that far fetched. Whether those regions would vote to leave, whether they would plausibly be able to do so smoothly and whether there is any real value in the odds is simply a matter of opinion.
On a similar topic, you can also bet on which country could be next to leave the EU (without United Kingdom included in the equation) with nations such as Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Poland, France and Sweden all in the mix.
Fancy a vote on who will win the next London Mayoral Election? Sadiq Khan might be a clear favourite to retain the position but there are odds available on some high profile outsiders to become Mayor of London, such as Eddie Izzard, David Cameron, George Gailoway, Jeremy Corbyn, Karren Brady, Lord Alan Sugar and Stormzy. The south London rapper – real name Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr - was born in Croydon and grew up in nearby Norbury and it would certainly be interesting to see him running things in the capital.
Returning to U.S. politics for a moment, it is always worth keeping an eye on the odds for next Democratic Nominee and next Republican Nominee in the run up to US Presidential Elections, with some additionally obscure names sometimes also entering into the picture. Punters can also bet on the gender of the next U.S. president and which party will win the next election, with American politics dominated by the Democrats and the Republicans and the odds on an Independent victory often being huge.
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Another feature of political discourse in the post Brexit referendum era has been the possibility of the reunification of Ireland. Keep an eye on the odds as the political landscape changes and see if there is value in the market for such an outcome by a specific date. It might never happen, but then years ago who would have predicted Donald Trump as president, the U.K. voting for Brexit or Boris Johnson as Prime Minister?
You can also find further Irish politics betting markets on the Year of next General Election, the Taoiseach After Next Election and the next leaders of Fine Gael, the Labor Party, Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail.
There are also some intriguing political betting specials out there, like North and South Korea to reunify as a single UN-recognised sovereign state before 2023, or whether football coach Pep Guardiola might become a political leader in his home region of Catalonia.
As is the case with sports betting, punters who regularly make a profit on political betting follow specific principals. It is not logical to bet any more than you can afford to lose and if you are unfortunate enough to lose a wager don’t go ‘chasing losses’ by placing additional outside bets to try a recoup your deficit.
Learn as much as you can about the market and topic you are betting on and only bet when you have built up significant knowledge on the political scenario you are aiming to forecast – just as applies in sports betting. Also consider using a betting exchange in addition to a sportsbook, where you can often find good value in odds being offered by other punters and traders.
Always look for neutral analysis around predictions of parliamentary and electoral outcomes and be aware that things can change rapidly in politics. Polling companies have found it increasingly hard to forecast election and referendum results in recent years, so even the experts who know how to process complex political statistics can often get it wrong.
As big elections approach you might feel that there is little value in the outright win odds, even if big upsets can and do happen. So also look around for prices on markets such as most seats, overall majority, unders/overs on seats won per party, vote percentages per party and voter turnout being within a certain percentage range, such as 60-70%.