Analysis

Are punters getting it wrong on Trump?

If the betting markets are to be believed the odds on President Trump getting re-elected are very different to what the polls are saying.

A “chasm” has opened up between what punters worldwide believe will be the outcome of next Tuesday’s Presidential election and what the polls are saying.

Despite Joe Biden being the current betting favourite, most of the money has been placed on President Trump gaining four more years in the White House.

According to Matthew Shaddick, the head of political betting at major UK bookmaker Ladbrokes, the difference of opinion between the punters and the polls is not usual.

Speaking on a webinar organized by the European Betting and Gaming Association (EGBA), he said: “In some ways we think the betting market is simply wrong, we think Biden has a better chance than the punters do.”

The half-a-billion-dollar question

Shaddick noted that the presidential betting market was shaping up to be the biggest single betting event of all time, while Betfair forecast yesterday that over half-a-billion dollars would be matched on the vote.

Shaddick added that Ladbrokes wasn’t surprised by the Trump bias in the betting.

“Coming into this election, we believed previously that the betting markets would over-estimate the chances of Trump winning.

“That is based on what happened in 2016 with Brexit and Trump’s first win.”

But he added that since then, punters who sided with the populists in various subsequent votes including in France, Italy and elsewhere had taken a beating.

“That is what we are seeing again with a huge wave of betting support for Trump, despite the odds.”

Stealing home

Shaddick suggested that in more normal times, the betting markets should be at least as accurate as the polls in predicting the final results, because they could add further information to their judgments.

In this case, however, punter appears to be latching on to conspiracy theories and scare stories in their reasoning for backing Trump.

The betting markets should be better at forecasting elections because they can add in other bits of information.

“Some of the reasons they give for the odds being wrong include the fear that Trump will steal the election, that the turnout can’t be trusted or that the polls are fake media. There is also the widespread belief that the polls are missing huge blocks of Trump voters.”

“I’m hugely skeptical of this view,” Shaddick added. “People misinterpret 2016, because the polls actually weren’t that far off.”

Ladbrokes is in line with the rest of the industry in having Biden as favorite, despite the weight of money in the other direction.

As Shaddick admitted: “In this election we would lose a lot of money if Trump won in a week’s time.”

Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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