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Bookies vs Polls: Are betting odds the best indicators of outcome?

by / 0 Comments / 08/11/2016

I bet you don’t really know who’ll secure the White House today, do you? But maybe your local bookies will have the answer …

 

When looking at the Ladbrokes and top online casino bookie odds of who will be elected the new leader of the ‘free world’, it is very interesting to note that despite Hillary Clinton’s three-week marginal lead, many punters are choosing to put their money on Donald Trump bagging the win.

Nowadays, the mainstream media and news outlets rely more and more on gambling odds to make predictions about everything, from the next winner on the Eurovision Song Contest to more pressing matters such as Brexit and the next US President.

Of course, bookies often get it wrong and a prime example is Brexit.

From the get-go bookmakers were overconfident that in the end Remain would prevail — so how did they get it so wrong?  The Answer is very simple: gamblers are often unrepresentative of the voting population as a whole. Punters that choose to bet on political events in the UK tend to be male, upper middle class and have  a university education.

The fact is that in contrast to the political betting markets, the polling proved a lot more reliable and showed a lead for the Leave campaign in the run-up to the vote. The reality of the matter is that at the end of the day, bookmakers do not offer forecasts or predictions regarding which way an election or referendum will swing. They are solely interested in maximising profits.

There are however a couple of examples where the bookies’ forecasts were more accurate than polling:

In 2012 the polls got it totally wrong when they backed Mitt Romney to steal Obama’s second term in office. Despite polling, the bookies stood fast with Obama.

Comparably, in the referendum for Scottish Independence in 2014, polls claimed it was too close too call whereas bookmakers steadily pointed to a no.

The US Presidential Election bares great similarity to Brexit as there seems to be a familiar discrepancy between recent polling and the bookmakers. The polling average currently has Hillary Clinton leading the race with a solid point. At the same time the betting markets give her odds of almost two-thirds of making it to the White House and gaining the popular vote – not always the same thing with the USA’s ballot system.

This presidential race has been an interesting journey with mind-blowing allegations, even more outrageous statements (mostly on Trump’s part) and FBI involvement. Who knows what other scandal could see the light of day in the near future.

For now the unlikely pair, a once shamed former First Lady and the billionaire star of the American Apprentice have reached the end of the road. Soon we will know which of them made it to the oval office. Who would have thought … maybe I should call my local bookie and ask if I can put a tenner on Sir Alan Sugar being PM one day!

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