Political betting might seem like a novelty, but it actually has a long history dating back to 18th-century Britain. Back then, it was a way to make the election process more inclusive for the people and their communities. Now, it is part of the sports betting category, which has experienced tremendous growth due to technological developments, while also being a leisure activity and possibly a better predictor than opinion polls.
What political bets can be placed?
Brits can place wagers on who the next Prime Minister could be, when the next Scottish Independence Referendum might take place or whether the UK would rejoin the EU. Those interested can see the latest betting tips and odds on political betting with Betfair. Betfair operates an online betting exchange and in addition to offering odds, it also shares regular news updates and industry analysis to assist its bettors as they make their calls.
For the UK, the most exciting political betting was that of 2019 on Brexit and its aftermath. Some examples of what people have placed bets on involved the country leaving the EU by 31st October 2019, the probability of a second referendum taking place before 2020, a No Deal Brexit and the petition to revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU. Although the Brexit decisions have already been made, bookies still offer the option to bet on whether the UK would rejoin the union as a full member by 2026.
Apart from being involved in the country’s political betting scene, Brits have also placed bets on the US presidential election. This year, they have wagered more money on the US election than on any other sporting event, accounting for a total of £220 million. To put it into perspective, that is more than the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Grand National combined. Though this might seem surprising, in reality, bookmakers have already confirmed that the bets placed on national elections exceed those of other major events.
However, when compared to the diversity and variety of the sports betting market, political betting is still in its early days. It holds only a small share of the gambling industry and although there is a massive hype around it during peak electoral times, the interest fades just as quickly.
Why do we bet?
Similar to the case of sports events, such as horse racing or football matches, betting on politics is another form of relaxation and escapism from the stress of everyday life. Furthermore, putting ourselves in risk-taking situations is embedded in human nature. The rush and adrenaline when waiting for the results is what drives people to bet and what entices them to learn about strategies. Aside from the thrill and the earnings, it is also about socialising and the experience in itself. In this regard, the reasons why people place wagers on politics are no different than those for sports events.
Key to maximising a return from politics betting is following the odds, rather than betting on the preferred party or politician. Since the largest betting event in the UK at the time, which was the 1966 election, this form of betting has blossomed and has become more innovative and more accessible.