BET THE LODGE: Honeymoon hiccup

The most recent Newspoll has reversed Labor's momentum slightly but its effect in the betting markets has been decisive.

The betting markets for the election have been swinging back and forth over recent weeks as the yet-to-be-announced election day draws ever nearer.

Recent polls which saw the major parties move to a 50-50 two party preferred rating or, in the case of Roy Morgan, had Labor in front, saw the betting agencies trim Labor’s odds of winning the election in to $2.75, from around the $4 quoted just after Kevin Rudd took back the prime ministership and the $8 and more on offer when Julia Gillard was PM.

The release of Newspoll earlier this week, which showed a move back in favour of the Coalition, 52-48, has seen the Labor Party drift out to $3.55 and the Coalition, which was as wide as $1.40 at one stage, come in to hot favourites at $1.28.

While the polls suggest it could be a close election, the betting is squarely pointing to a comfortable Coalition win. This is showing up in the odds for the number of seats each side will win in the House of Representatives. The Coalition is considered to be the same odds – $5 – to win 101 or more seats in the 150-seat chamber as Labor are to win 81 or more seats. These odds show just how skewed the betting markets are in favour of a Coalition win.

There was a flurry in betting markets when the polls closed and there were markets framed on whether Tony Abbott would be leader of the Liberal Party at the election. About a month ago, Abbott was $1.01 to lead the Liberals at the election and those odds were probably that generous because there was some risk of a meteorite hitting Abbott’s bike on one of his early morning rides. With the lift in Labor’s stocks, Abbott got out to as wide as $1.12 with Malcolm Turnbull, the only credible alternative to Abbott, coming in from $10 to, at one stage, reaching $5 about a week ago.

As the dust steadily settles on this issue, Abbott has come into $1.07 – which still seems very generous as it represents a 7 per cent tax-free return – while Turnbull is back out to $7. For the record, Joe Hockey is $26 to lead the Liberal Party at the election.

There is a quirky betting market being offered on the voter turnout which is defined as the percentage of the eligible population who vote in the House of Representatives poll. The most favoured outcomes are a turnout of 93.01-94 per cent which is $2.50, while 94.01-95 per cent is $2.80. A low turnout, at 91 per cent or below is considered a long shot at $16, while mass voter participation at 96.01 per cent and above is $26.

All of which adds up to a case where the polls, the betting markets and the debate are all hotting up. If the markets are right, Abbott will win the election with a majority of around 20 seats, made up of 85 for the Coalition and 65 for all others.

No doubt these odds will change in the weeks ahead, but which way is the $64 question.

The odds are subject to change and the bookmakers reserve the right to refuse bets. Wager only what you can afford to lose.

For those with a gambling problem, please see www.problemgambling.gov.au