It’s been quite a year for political betting junkies. From Brexit to Trump, and via some tasty markets on who, variously, would be the next leader of the Tory party, the Labour Party and UKIP, those with an eye on the front pages have been enjoying a year to remember.
But it’ not over yet. Those hoping for one last fix will have their eyes on the UK Supreme Court decision next week which, uniquely, will be televised live and is the subject of the market on Betfair on what the outcome will be.
“It’s like a televised sporting event,” says Mike Smithson from PoliticalBetting.com and a leading commentator on all things involving odds and global political events.
“More people are betting on politics these days,” he adds. “Obviously, it’s not as big as sports. But people like Betfair are looking for opportunities to develop it. For instance, people are also already betting on the French Presidential election next May. That’s extraordinary.”
Not to be outdone, William Hill is also offering a market on the outcome of the Supreme Court decision on Monday. For reference, it is offering odds of 12/5 that the justices will overall the High Court decision that Parliamentary approval is needed for the government to invoke the Article 50 EU exit process and 3/10 odds on that it will uphold the High Court’s opinion.
Much has been made in the press this year of ‘the bookies getting it wrong’ on first the UK referendum vote on membership of the EU and then with the election of Donald Trump. But Smithson points out that betting markets shouldn’t be treated as prediction markets.
“Nobody says the bookie shave got it wrong when a 100/1 shot wins the Grand National,” he says. “Besides, all political markets are determined by the weight of cash not by the actual amount of bets. With both Brexit and Trump there were lots of small bets being made on both outcomes, but the big money was on the reverse.”
Smithson says he sees every reason for the interest in political betting to increase on the part of the bookmakers. “The reason the bookies love it is that they get to move from the back pages to the front,” he says “It gives them exposure.”
After the Supreme Court decision there will be a lull until the French Presidential election and the German parliamentary elections which will take place at some point next year. Then Smithson says it will be eyes down for the potential blockbuster year of 2020. “We will then have a UK general Election and the next US Presidential election.”
For some, the latter cannot come soon enough.