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UKIP and the betting markets

| 18.05.2014

Ladbrokes opened up betting on the 2014 GB  European Parliamentary election result in January 2013. Here’s how we priced up the most votes market back then:

  • 1/3 Labour
  • 3/1 UKIP
  • 10/1 Tories

It’s now four days from polling day and here’s the latest:


3/1 UKIP is looking pretty nice right now. What does the UK’s top political betting pundit Mike Smithson think?

Oh. So, according to Mike, UKIP should still be 2/1. Which makes 4/7 look a touch less appealing, and the 7/1 about the Tories a superb bet. Forgetting about the now excellent hedging possibilities, it was hardly worth taking 3/1 16 months ago.

I tweeted a couple of days ago that the betting markets were losing confidence in UKIP. That may sound a bit silly, given that they are still odds on. But Ladbrokes have been best price (inc Betfair) for most of the last week and the three and four figure bets have certainly started to dry up in the last couple of days.

You often hear people talk of the polls being “all over the place”; usually they are talking rubbish and everything can be explained by margins of error. In this case, it’s probably fair comment with ComRes putting UKIP on 35% but ICM at just 25%. If Anthony Wells is at a loss to explain these variations, there’s not much point any of the rest of us trying. Having a bet now is almost like having to bet on competing polling methodologies and most normal people don’t have much of an opinion on that

Most layers will currently be sitting on a big loss if UKIP top the polls, so there won’t be a lot of appetite for taking much more, even if they think the odds are too short. In the main, bookmakers’ attitude towards betting on politics is, “don’t lose too much money and see if you can get the odds in the paper enough to make up for it”. I’ll write a post about that some other day. Anyway, here’s how the money bet with Ladbrokes breaks down since the market opened:


We’ve taken a grand total of one bet on the Lib Dems to top in the poll during the last 16 months.




Matthew Shaddick

Matthew Shaddick has been Head of Poliical Betting at Ladbrokes since 2008. He's a writer and odds-maker with particular expertise in UK and US elections.
Also known to dabble in music, literary and other out of the way betting markets. Sometimes issues tips on horse racing and football, which are best ignored.