While it may not have the immediate excitement of sports, there can be little doubt that politics and economics shape our world. Their influence touches all aspects of modern life and dominates the news cycle. As such, there are many people with strong opinions and a desire to back them, that have made political betting a niche but significant market for bookmakers.
This guide focuses on explaining the main markets for political gamblers, which bookmakers offer the most and deepest markets and where to look for value for money political bets.
Best Political Betting Sites 2021:
Political betting usually focuses on big issues that will resolve in binary outcomes that are clearly quantifiable. This means that election results are the most common markets to bet on. While that might sound dull, the reality is that there are many more elections every year than we might think of. The news focuses on general and presidential elections, but there are always many smaller local or statewide votes every year.
Presidential Election Betting
American Presidential elections are massive events that last for more than a year. The ultimate winner will become, arguably, the most powerful person in the world, so there is massive news and TV attention.
Presidential elections provide many betting opportunities because of the number of elections that run simultaneously on that day in November. For example, Senators serve a six year term and approximately one third come up for reelection at the same time as the presidential vote. Congress sits terms of two years, which means that every serving Congressman and Congresswoman will be reelected at the same time. Many of America’s Mayors will also require reelection in what are termed gubernatorial elections. This means that there will be hundreds of election results to bet on.
In the run up to November, many smaller victories will be required to get on the ticket. This means that there will be races and betting markets for:
- Republican and Democratic Party nominees
- Vice President running mates
- State by state caucus and primary elections, such as Super Tuesday
The American political system offers almost any potential candidate an opportunity in the earliest days of the race, if enough money can be raised and support provided. Some of the more plausible candidates over the years include Ross Perot and Andrew Yang, while who could forget Herman Cain or John McAfee? However odd it may seem, it is this unusual system that enabled Donald Trump to run for office despite having no previous political experience.
This system offers some very unusual betting opportunities which often have very strange odds. For example, it is quite common for there to be a small number of politicians in a race – such as to be the party nominee – and there will be several people quoted that are not in the race and are considered to be more likely to win than people who are actually in the race. A great example of this was demonstrated in 2019 when for several months both Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton were quoted by bookmakers as being more likely to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination – even though both had said they were not planning to enter the race – than most of the existing candidates! Can you imagine a horse race with ten runners where the fourth and fifth favourites are not even at the track?
Presidential election betting provides markets for:
- Next President
- Senate and Congress overall majorities
- Senate and Congress majorities over/under
- Next Senate and Congress Majority Leaders
- Individual state by state senator elections
- Total number of seats won in Congress by each party, which are normally quoted by bookmakers in groups, such as 0-10, 11-20, 21-30 etc
Congressional, Mayoral and Governor elections also offer up some very unusual candidates in the United States. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura were both elected despite one being an actor and the other a former wrestler.
General Election Betting
News cycles are dominated by politicians during an election campaign. So much awareness helps to generate very strong election betting markets. There are obviously a small number of countries – dominated by the US and UK – whose elections generate global press and attention and they also offer the most variety in their betting.
General election betting provides markets for:
- Next leader, such as Prime Minister or President
- Winning party
- Outright majority
- Winning margin of seats
- Total number of seats won by each party, which are normally quoted by bookmakers in groups, such as 0-10, 11-20, 21-30 etc
General elections usually then provide more betting opportunities as the losing parties tend to go through a destructive process of change and renewal where the leaders of the party resign or are forced out. This provides us with markets for the next party leader.
A referendum is a single issue vote that is put to an entire electorate. The most notable in recent years was the UK’s in/out Brexit vote, which lead to many followup bets and specials. Votes of this sort provide less opportunity to find value bets, but are generally very active markets.
Referendum betting provides markets for:
- Outright result yes/no
- Voter turnout
Local Election Betting
There are many reasons why an individual politician may not serve their full term in office, forcing a vote to elect a replacement. Some politicians resign amid scandals, some suffer ill health and others pass away, creating vacancies. These votes can happen at anytime in the year and would generally provide an outright winner betting market.
Countries such as the UK and USA will have political betting markets for less common occurrences, known as “specials”. Examples are:
- Next Prime Minister (because in countries such as the UK, a political party can remove it’s leader)
- Will the President / Prime Minister leave office before the next election? (These are specials that were created for the Trump era. Before Donald Trump, there was no real feeling that Barak Obama might leave office suddenly).
- What year will a President or Prime Minister leave office?
- Next party leader for each main political party (this is more common in the UK)
- Next country to have an EU referendum
- Next country to leave the EU (this is a common market in eurosceptic Britain)
What Are The Best Political Betting Sites?
Most major online betting sites offer some range of political betting. However, we have identified three that we think are the best in the market. These three are amongst the largest and most trusted online bookmakers in the world, so you can relax and look for the bet and odds of your choice.
Betway also offers a very wide range of markets for both the US and UK. Their odds are generally very competitive and when asked they are willing to consider some of the stranger combinations and ideas that occur in politics.
In our experience, 22bet has fewer political betting markets, but usually has slightly better odds. This, combined with their worldwide presence and excellent reputation, makes them difficult to overlook for any type of bet.
Election Betting Odds
As a major election approaches, polling companies will be asking questions to sampled groups on a regular schedule to try and get a feeling for how the public will vote. Generally these polls will show differing results from each other but be directionally very similar. This similarity means that election betting odds move slowly and often not at all for many months. It is very common to find odds being offered on Betfair when circumstances have clearly moved on and the bet is no longer relevant.
The most accurate way to gauge election betting odds is on the day of the election itself. In most countries polling companies will speak to many thousands of voters on their way out of the polling station to ask for their choices. These are known as exit polls. The sensitivity of them means that it is usually illegal for the polling companies to share their results until after the voting time has closed and no more votes can be cast. This is done to try and prevent voters from changing their votes, but betting markets are often still open at this late stage.
Once the polls are closed, the process of counting begins. The speed at which votes are counted varies quite considerably from one town, city or state to another. For example, there are several cities in England that race to be the first places to declare their results. At the other end of the spectrum is California, where Congressional and Senate votes are often not declared for several days, sometimes up to a week after the polls are closed.
How To Find Value In Election Betting Odds?
As a rule, there are several possible scenarios when looking for odds on a specific election. There will be many elections that are too close to call, where voters in a city are historically very tightly split between two main parties. In this type of situation, the odds will be very similar for both main candidates and the actual margin of victory might be less than one percent of the total votes cast. These results are very hard to call and sensible gamblers will avoid these contests.
Next there are situations where there is a long-standing and well regarded incumbent and it seems very likely that he or she will be reelected with a fairly easy win. In these types of markets the main opponent might be priced very generously by bookies to try and balance their books on this market. The reality though is that it is difficult for a gambler to make money on these bets.
However, there are situations, such as the “Blue Wave” in the United States in 2018, which offer many opportunities. During that Blue Wave, there were many established Republican Congressmen who lost their seat to first time challengers. Individually, there were many markets where there seemed to be only one likely victor, but the combination of a resurgent Democratic Party with voter unhappiness at Donald Trump’s performance, meant that there was a nationwide surge in votes for the Democrats. In situations like this, there were many upsets and those situations provided opportunities for bettors.
Political Betting FAQ
- Is political betting good to bet on? There are many people that are simply not interested in sports and instead have built up years of knowledge in the workings of the political system. Other people just want to have a financial interest in an upcoming election which will be covered endlessly by the news.
- Is there an opportunity to make a good profit on political betting? Since elections are relatively infrequent, it would not be possible to make a full time income as some people manage within specific sports betting markets. However, there are opportunities to make great long-term bets and find unusual value in politics. Politicians usually tell the world what they are thinking all the time and strategic, tactical or policy changes are almost always announced to the world, but not everyone is able to spot these subtle changes in direction and interpret them objectively to see where a situation is changing and therefore odds might also need to change. This means that there are gambling opportunities for eagle eyed followers of politics.
- Is political betting a fair market? There are many laws around the world designed to police elections and ensure that they are fair. Many of these laws follow internationally agreed procedures set out by the Venice Commission. Policing elections is not easy to do and there have been many scandals over the years, including the most visible of Russian interference in the 2016 United States Presidential election, as described by the Mueller Report to Congress. As a rule, most elections are free and fair and their results stand, but with so much power going to the winner, there is always a risk of underhanded tactics.
- How can I start political betting? Is there a major election coming up that you have an opinion on? If there is, now is the time to sign up to one of the online bookmakers mentioned above and get started. The companies listed above each have some form of welcome bonus or offer to new customers, which means that any money you deposit today will be added to. Get started today and you can check the odds and place your first political or election bet very soon.
Here at SportsBetting24.ca we follow the news and politics quite closely and over time have come to love the opportunities that political betting can offer. We hope that our enjoyment comes through in this article.
We have explained how some of the largest issues work in a political betting for beginners way, so that you can get started by looking for the market of your choice today. We have found interesting gambling opportunities in election betting odds and we are sure that you can find them too. We have also compared the main online bookmakers and provided a short-list so that you can benefit from our experience and get started right away, without needing to investigate lots of companies and their odds. We wish you good luck.