As strange as it may sound, betting on the outcome of political events is something that has always been popular. Nowadays, with advancement of online betting and the various tools by which you can facilitate it, betting on politics is perhaps more popular than it has ever been before.
As governments become more transparent and public with their activities, elections, and everything else, the number of betting markets continues to grow. As a result, we are finding a situation where very few online sportsbooks are absent a section relating to politics.
Some popular US sportsbooks offer a plethora of political betting options while others only offer propositions on the most high-profile events, but the fact of the matter is that it exists and is growing increasingly popular all the time. And if you are thinking it is only United States politics that are able to be wagered upon, you could not be any further from reality. In the following few sections we will do our best to explain not only how betting on politics works, but the types of political happenings that you are able to wager on.
Understanding the Odds
The most basic tenant of betting—whether it be on sports or politics—is that there are almost always going to be at least one favorite and at least one underdog. While there are special occasions that, technically, feature only one or the other, most instances will see both present. Naturally, the favorite in any given scenario is going to be the bet that will earn you comparatively less money than a winning underdog bet might.
When viewing political wagers, you will often see a favored outcome denoted by a “-“ symbol, followed by a number. We will go more into what the “-“ tells you later, but for now all you need to know is that it denotes a favorite. Conversely, the “+” will tell you that the particular betting option in question is an underdog, or not favored.
So, let’s use the 2016 US Presidential election as an example. Initially, Donald Trump was considered to be a long-shot with virtually no chance of emerging victorious. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, was what most people in the gambling world referred to as a shoe-in, or heavy favorite. Understanding this, you might have seen a bet that looked something like this:
To win 2016 US Presidential Election:
Hillary Clinton -500
Donald Trump +350
For this hypothetical betting line, Hillary Clinton is the heavy favorite. If you were to have $100 with which to wager, a $100 bet on Clinton—if it emerged victorious—would win you just $20. This is determined by taking the 500 odds, moving the decimal place two to the left (5.00) and dividing your wager by this number.
On the other hand, if you were to place a winning $100 wager on Donald Trump, your $100 would win you $350. In similar fashion, this is determined by taking the 350 and moving the decimal two places to the left (3.50). This time, however, you multiply your wager by 3.5 and come away with the $350 total. This may seem a bit complicated, but luckily almost every sportsbook will do the calculating for you so that it is clear how much you stand to win prior to you placing a wager.
Another type of line, and one that usually features more than 3 betting options, might look something like this:
To Win 2016 US Presidential Election:
Hillary Clinton 11/10
Donald Trump 7/1
Gary Johnson 50/1
Jill Stein 100/1
Like the aforementioned odds, these also might seem a bit confusing at first. In reality, they are quite simply to understand. If you are wagering on Hillary Clinton, her 11/10 odds are telling you that a winning $10 wager will pay you $11. A victorious Donald Trump wager of $1 will win you $7.
Judging by those two examples, it is clear to see that Jill Stein is the heavy underdog in this equation. Once again, almost every sportsbook is going to calculate your wager so that you fully understand what you stand to win before you are forced to commit to the wager itself.
Political Events to Wager On
When it comes to betting on politics, there are so many options throughout a given year. In a lot of instances, the wagering options that present themselves are not necessarily planned out years in advance. In 2016, for example, the United Kingdom saw its citizens vote on whether it wanted to remain part of the European Union; a regional organization of cooperative governments.
A year prior, the idea of the UK voting to leave the EU is one that would have seen you labelled a crazy person. Still, it happened and you best believe that just about every sportsbook out there was offering odds on whether the UK would opt to remain a part of the EU or leave altogether. Beyond this, there were a boatload of wagers attached to this, such as whether or not the Prime Minister would resign upon the vote’s outcome.
An example of a more standard, routine type of wager would be the US Presidential election, which takes place on the first Tuesday in November once every four years. Despite it happening as seldom as the World Cup, it is still arguably one of the most popular events for bettors. In this same vein, the national elections of so many other countries, which happen at varying intervals, are all betting options. Of course, it must be said that elections in countries like the US, the UK, France, and Japan are more likely to yield a wider number of betting options than the national election of a small country such as Austria.
In the United States in particular, there are also plenty of wagering options for certain individual pieces of legislation. More recently, the state by state legalization of marijuana is something that has become a hot-topic issue in the United States.
Typically, the decision to legalize (or keep criminalizing) marijuana is something that is left up to a referendum, or vote where every voting-age citizen will get to have their say. Bettors can take in all the information that is out there to make an informed wager. While this has recently been a big movement in the US, there are so many other hot-topic and high-profile pieces of legislation in the works all throughout the world.
We could go on and on about the different types of political events that can be wagered upon, but those examples do well to paint a pretty accurate picture of what you can expect from the political betting scene. Before wrapping things up, it is important to mention that not every site is going to offer political wagering. In fact, there are some sites that do not offer it at all, and others that only offer betting markets for the absolutely most high-profile elections and votes. It is important to do your research in order to find those sites that do well to offer a nice quantity and variety of political wagering options.