Scottish Independence Referendum Betting Preview

Scottish Independence Referendum Betting Preview
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Scottish independence has been on the political agenda in Holyrood for the past two decades but how close is Scotland to voting ‘yes’ over ‘no’? The 2014 independence referendum result saw Scotland vote 55-45 in favour of remaining part of the United Kingdom. But a lot has happened since then and the Scottish National Party believe the time is right for a fresh vote on the issue.

The best politics betting sites have tracked the Scottish independence odds ever since the 2014 result went in favour of the union. Issues including Brexit, coronavirus and a less-than-welcomed Conservative government in Westminster have supposedly fanned the flames of nationalism.

But how close is Scotland to voting to go it alone? And is IndyRef2 really just around the corner?

When is IndyRef2?

Talk of IndyRef2 taking place emerged almost as soon as the first referendum results were announced. But the SNP, perhaps smartly, decided against jumping the gun too soon. It has been more than six years since that vote and the arguments for independence have changed – the big one being Brexit, with every council in Scotland voting in favour of Remain during the 2016 referendum.

The SNP claim Brexit has taken Scotland out of the EU against its will and that voting for independence would give the country the right to apply for EU membership once again. Westminster, however, argue the union as a whole voted Leave and are having none of it.

But the current odds on Scottish independence suggest we won’t be seeing a vote any time soon. William Hill’s odds on IndyRef2 have 2025 or beyond as the most likely date, at 1/2. A referendum in 2022 or 2023 is priced at 6/1, highlighting just how sceptical bookmakers are on an announcement any time soon.

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Scottish Independence Betting – Yes or No?

Whenever the next referendum is, there’s no denying that the political betting odds have been a frenzy of activity for years. Roughly 59% of all bets placed on this market are backing independence. The rest are siding with Remain, which is the favourite outcome at 8/11 with Betfair.

The odds of Scottish independence have been as low as Evens for months despite polls suggesting voters are growing increasingly against independence.

In fact, the disparity between betting activity and polls is notable. While total wagers on this market suggest a 59-41 swing in favour of Leave, current polls are backing the union by 49-43 (8% undecided). So why are the odds on Leave so low? Because bettors are deflating the price by backing that outcome.

And why are bettors backing that outcome? Well, against-the-odds election wins have happened recently with both Brexit and Donald Trump’s US presidential victory in 2016. Shrewd bettors are covering their bases by wagering early on the latest Scottish independence odds.

Has Covid Affected Scottish Independence Vote?

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and 2021 exposed serious inequalities within UK society but appears to have worked against the independence cause, rather than helped fuel an appetite for it.

That is partially due to the Tory government’s furlough scheme that covered the majority of wages for almost 500,000 people north of the border – roughly 25% of the workforce.



Added onto this the largely successful vaccination drive in Scotland and support for the union has risen. Indeed, a poll in 2021 found independence was the biggest political issue for just 19% of Scots. More important were the state of the economy, education and Brexit.

Notably, 22% of voters now believe there shouldn’t be an IndyRef2 at all – although roughly half of those polled reckon a referendum will take place before 2026.

Next SNP Leader Odds

While the SNP pushes for independence in Holyrood and Westminster, betting on who will be the next party leader has heated up after Ms Sturgeon avoided being ousted in the spring of 2021.

Scottish independence political betting goes hand-in-hand with the goings-on within the nationalist party. And while Ms Sturgeon appears to have no intention of stepping away from her role, the next SNP leader betting markets have been shuffling for months.

Humza Yousaf and John Swinney are the two frontrunners to eventually replace Sturgeon. Mr Yousaf sits in Sturgeon’s cabinet as the health secretary, while Mr Swinney was appointed Deputy First Minister back in 2014.

Angus Robertson, Joanna Cherry and Michael Matheson all have narrowing odds in the race to become the next SNP leader – and therefore also becoming the next First Minister. But politics odds can sometimes flip within hours and Ms Sturgeon knows she cannot remain in her post indefinitely without making progress on IndyRef2.

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Next Region To Vote On Independence From UK

Scotland is assumed to vote on independence eventually and bookmakers have therefore cast their eyes further afield to gauge which region of the UK could follow with a vote.

Tensions in Northern Ireland over post-Brexit trade with the EU has sparked fresh claims a united Ireland referendum could be called. Those odds sit at just 2/1 on a vote taking place by 2024.

Meanwhile, Merseyside is priced at 25/1 to be the next region to hold an independence referendum, ahead of Lancashire and Yorkshire (both 33/1). While Merseyside is markedly anti-Conservative, constituencies in both Lancashire and Yorkshire that were once considered safe Labour seats flipped Blue in 2019 and subsequent by-elections.

That suggests there is less anti-Tory appetite in these latter counties and therefore a reduced likelihood they would vote to go it alone.

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