Political betting can be a simple task. Punters typically stick to wagering on the government they live under but don't think players outside of the UK and US aren't capitalizing on those lucrative political betting markets too.
When an election approaches, the most popular market is the 'next Prime Minister' market - or the US' equivalent, 'next US President' market. These are, of course, most relevant to the UK and US markets, and therefore generate the most interest on those shores when it comes to politics betting. Fortunately, there are, though, many more options available to you, especially when an attention-grabbing political event from a lesser known jurisdiction is on the horizon.
As well as betting on UK politics, you can, with most firms, place bets on American and Irish politics. Bookmakers such as Ladbrokes Sports, Paddy Power Sports and Betfair Exchange have latched on to the fact that America is the most powerful political force in the world and therefore has a political scene followed with considerable interest. They now offer markets not only for political election betting, but also for primaries (both the Democratic and Republican), nominations, winning parties, vice-president candidates and even college votes. The sheer amount of choice on offer to the interested punter is highly impressive.
When looking at political betting markets (an offshoot of the Specials market on most bookies' sites), there are a few things you should take into account that mark it out as different to sports, games and casino markets. The first is that most candidates up for a position are at very short prices, because either public consensus causes a sure-fire outcome or because there aren’t many feasible candidates for the post. There’s also the fact that, if you bet in the run up to the election, it can be a risky business because contender credibility can change very quickly, so what was once a promising bet could suddenly be left without a hope.
There are, though, such a large amount of bets available to you, that there are usually one or two markets that do not offer odds at very short prices. Unfortunately, such is the public interest surrounding politics, most people know the winner of an election or a primary before he/she has even been announced, and the bookmakers price their markets accordingly.
Thus, political election betting does not reap much of a reward, unless the result is really up in the air. So, the solution to this is either betting with big stakes, (1/25 is not a price that appeals to small-time punters) or to steer clear altogether. In reality, as is the case with odds-on shots, there is rarely money to be made unless you are completely sure that the candidate can succeed, and, in politics, this is not always a foregone conclusion. One thing is for sure, though; for abstainers, politics betting makes the result a whole lot more interesting.
There are, of course, exceptions to this. There have been many close elections in the recent past (Bush versus Kerry, Cameron versus Clegg versus Brown) where the result is up in the air until the last minute. This is a time when political betting really can reap plenty of dividends. What’s more, for punters with a political interest, all the excitement surrounding elections will inevitably be augmented by being able to back your preferred party or candidate with not only a vote, but with some cash as well.
The vital piece of advice is not to go overboard when you see a short-priced candidate. Just wait for a close election, analyse in detail how wider public sentiment may affect the outcome, and assess your own political loyalties if relevant before, quite simply, piling in and hoping the rest of the world agrees with you.
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