LAS VEGAS – Emotions were high on Election Night 2016, especially when you had almost $ 30,000 at stake.
“I went on election night with Trump minus $ 28,000, Clinton plus $ 25,000,” Paul Krishnamurty, political analyst at Betfair, the world’s largest online betting exchange, told Fox News.
Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton that night almost four years ago surprised professional gamers and pollsters.
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“I think everyone was shocked, right? You just watched these crazy results and everything is just turning around, ”said Krishnamurty. “I managed to cut my loss at Trump almost in half. But it wasn̵
According to OddsChecker, a leading odds comparison website in the UK, around 58% of all bets on August 2020 race were placed on Trump. The incumbent has received 55.8% of the bets so far in September.
Trump was the longshot that paid off a lot in 2016 and could be the reason the 2020 presidential race appears a lot closer in overseas betting markets than in national polls as players hope he can defy the odds again.
“Trump wrote this fairytale betting story,” said Krishnamurty.
According to the latest Betfair odds, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has a 53% chance of winning compared to Trump’s 46%, even though the numbers are constantly fluctuating and “practically 50/50 the other day,” noted Krishnamurty.
Election betting dates back to the late 19th century when pool halls doubled as a betting exchange before going to Wall Street, where millions of dollars poured into the elusive practice that shaped American politics.
The 2016 elections grossed huge amounts of money in the betting markets, which were becoming increasingly popular for determining a candidate’s chances of winning.
Brandi Travis, chief marketing officer at PredictIt, a researcher-researched-sponsored betting exchange and one of only two places legal to gamble on politics in the US, believes the betting markets are more accurate than the polls.
“The reason for this is that when you interview people, you ask what you want to do. And in real money prediction markets, you ask people what you think is going to happen and what you think so much that you are going to put your money into it, ”said Travis.
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During this year’s Iowa Caucus, many polls showed Joe Biden as the front runner and Senator Bernie Sanders in a close second place, followed by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Prediction It had Buttigieg at the helm.
“A lot of people were surprised that Buttigieg won. However, if you had looked at our markets leading to Iowa, you would have seen that we had Buttigieg before anyone else, ”said Travis.
Before the 2016 elections, the betting markets had a strong track record.
During the 2012 presidential contest, national polls had held incumbent Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney in a virtual tie, while betting markets like Betfair and the now-defunct Irish betting website Intrade were heavily favoring Obama.
“The markets had a fantastic record through 2015,” said Krishnamurty. “In the first 15 years of Betfair they never failed to hold a UK or American election 100 days later and then everything went crazy – Trump, Brexit. I think people have lost a lot of faith in her now. ”
While overseas markets are more favorable to Trump, PredictIt, which was founded in 2014, has Biden by a large margin and a 59% chance of winning less than two months before the November election.
“He’s been up since May and hasn’t fallen since,” said Travis.
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Rob Lang, a professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, argued that there isn’t much value in the betting markets over traditional polls except when it comes to election night.
“They are emotional markets. Bettors don’t have much more insight into what’s going on politically than someone who just pays attention, ”said Lang. “They’re not bad on the night of the elections because they gather information quickly and then put it on the market.”
They say money talks, and while the national polls might show Trump having an uphill battle, it’s clear that the players are ready to play the odds.