Are People Betting on the General Election?

election bettingThis week, Conservative candidate Craig Williams apologized after placing a bet on the date of the general election. This incident raises the question: how many ordinary voters have been having a flutter on the election too?

Bookies admitted they were not exactly rushed off their feet.

“This year is slightly quieter than we may have seen in previous elections, primarily because Labour are expected to get an overwhelming majority,” said Brett Williams from Unibet. “In other years, when it’s been slightly more open, we have seen a little bit more interest.”

Those who were having a punt were not betting massive amounts, he said, mostly £5 or £10.

The Betting Scene at Paddy Power

At Paddy Power, it has been a “slow burner” too, said its PR manager Rachael Kane.

“We see most action on the week of an election,” she added.

Brett Williams from Unibet noted that most people betting on the election are spending between £5 and £10. He mentioned that televised leader debates seemed to tempt more people to place bets, with the “big mover” being Reform UK.

Future Leaders and Other Markets

Unibet customers are already thinking beyond the next prime minister and have been betting on the future leaders of the parties. The favorite to be the next Labour leader after Sir Keir Starmer is Andy Burnham, while Kemi Badenoch is favored for the Conservatives after Rishi Sunak.

Brett Williams pointed out another “interesting betting market” involving voter turnout and the number of seats each party will win.

The Nature of Political Betting

Rachael Kane remarked that political betting was “one for the anoraks who know their stuff.” When asked if any particular outcome could cause problems for the bookies, Brett replied,

“Our liabilities are very, very low…. we are just talking quite minimal stakes really.”

Rachael noted that if Reform UK won an overall majority, it would be Paddy Power’s biggest general election pay-out. Despite fewer people betting on this election compared to previous ones, Brett mentioned that elections generally attract more custom than other national events, such as the naming of a royal baby, because they “affect everybody’s lives.”

Overall, betting on politics is “probably quite a niche area,” he said. “But it all comes down to how engaged the public are in a topic. If people are talking about it, then people are more likely to have a punt on it as it will get more attention in the news cycle and as a result they’ll feel better informed and more likely to have a flutter.”