SBC Bookies’ Corner – UK 2017 – Entering the Final Leg…

As Britain hits polling stations this Thursday 8 June, SBC details bookmaker opinion on what has been a short but intriguing General Election campaign. On first sight, the UK 2017 election was viewed as a Conservative Party ‘Whitewash’, however a number of blunders has handed the initiative to the opposition.

Can Labour do the impossible, has Theresa underestimated her position and opposition, will this Election have any deep impact on the UK political landscape…SBC gets the full bookmaker lowdown!

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Matthew Shaddick – Ladbrokes

SBC: Coming into the final week of campaigning, Does PM Theresa May’s Snap Election call still seem a wise decision? Has PM May underestimated her direct opposition? 

Matthew Shaddick (Head of Politics Ladbrokes): In hindsight, it’s easy to say it was a risky call – Labour and Corbyn’s ratings were at an incredible low and, with a half-decent campaign, there was a lot more room for them to go up rather than down.  Corbyn has done a lot better than expected but polling (on average) still seems to be pointing toward an increased Tory majority.

Also, there was some risk in not doing it. If the economy slows down and brexit talks run into trouble, she could have been left in a much more vulnerable position by 2020. At the time, I thought it made sense, so I’m not going to aftertime now.

SBC: Will the 2017 UK General Election change the UK political landscape and electoral map, or was this simply wishful thinking by the Conservative Government?  

Alistair Gill – Kindred Group

Alistair Gill (Sportsbook Commercial Relations – Kindred Group): What we are seeing in this election is very much in line with the pattern followed in both the French and US election (the 2 latest and our biggest 2 political events ever). The pattern is a clear favourite against a huge underdog with significantly higher odds. However, punters are very keen to chase the value offered by the underdog and in the French, US and so far UK election, although there is significantly more Turnover generated by the favourite, the number of bets placed is higher on the underdog and the liability we have has been huge on Trump, Le Pen and Labour.

This election will be interesting in terms of punter knowledge and behavior, as in the US election the underdog, in fact, won and cost us a 7 figure sum, showing Number of Bets to be the key identifier, ahead of Turnover, where as in the French election Macron came through and Kindred saw a 6 figure win, suggesting that Turnover is the key data point. Already over a week out we have a 6 figure liability on labour and the betting pattern seems to be mirroring what we have seen previously.

On the ‘Outright’ markets 65% of Turnover generated is backing Conservatives, however, notably, in the same ‘Outright’ market 60% of bets placed have been on Labour, suggesting that the election might not be the landslide Theresa May was hoping for.

Tim Reynolds - Sun Bets
Tim Reynolds – Sun Bets

SBC: From a bookmaker perspective, how important is the final week of campaigning? What do you look for in candidates that can make a difference to political betting markets? 

Tim Reynolds (Head of PR Sun Bets): I think the thing about the final week of campaigning is that the public are tuned in and willing to engage with politics. Often we have months of campaigning ahead of an election or referendum, and it’s been proven that for much of this the man in the street isn’t actively listening. Conversely in the final week Joe Public makes his mind up, and therefore as bookmakers we place special emphasis on this final push of the campaigning period. Candidates make a massive difference to the betting and never more so than in the final week- where a Diane Abbott-esque gaff will impact most on the deliberating public. Equally strong local candidates like Stephen Lloyd in Eastbourne (a cracking bet at 13/8 by the way!) can positively influence local constituency betting in the final days.

It’s hard for us bookies to be tuned into the local issues that affect each of the 650 seats so we’re always extra vigilant when we see a run of “local” money for a local candidate. We also actively look to find seats geographically close to each other and have a similar makeup- for example, if we see big money for Brexity Clacton to ‘go Tory’ we will trim the price of Harwich and North Essex to follow suit. Forget national polls and even Ashcroft constituency polls, there’s nothing like local money to give us a steer on how a seat is headed!

Joe Lee – Paddy Power

SBC: From an industry perspective, is a Corbyn UK General Election victory a bigger upset than Donald Trump winning the US Presidency in 2016? 

Joe Lee  (Senior Trader – Paddy Power): There are certainly similarities to Corbyn and Trump – at a basic level, they were each massive outsiders in a two-horse race.

And, interestingly, we’re seeing a very similar flow of money for Labour and Corbyn to that which we saw for Trump – and Le Pen in France. The mindset of punters now is clearly similar to during the US Presidential Election – more than 80% of bets in the last week have been for some form of Labour/Corbyn outcome.

However, while both Trump and Corbyn entered their respective races at big prices, we’re not comparing like for like, really – Trump was 100/1 when he initially confirmed he would see the Republican nomination.

Corbyn for PM was only ever as big as 10/1 – and had to deal with a scenario where somebody else, assuming they were in a dominant position, was able to decide when to call an election.

Trump, at least, knew what he was getting himself into, allowing him some ‘preparation time’. Consider all that, from where he started, Trump is absolutely the political upset for the ages.

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