Bet the Lodge: Kevin at a clip

Labor was shortening on the prospect of a Kevin Rudd return and the market has tightened again since his ascension. But Abbott's still a hot favourite.

The political ructions in Canberra has seen savage swings in the election betting markets over the past week.

The end point is that bookmakers still solidly favour an Abbott-led Coalition forming government at the next election, but the Rudd reincarnation has seen odds for a Labor win shorten appreciably.

A week ago, the betting markets generally had the Coalition $1.07 favourites to win the election with Labor rank outsiders at $8. As news emerged of a possible leadership change in Labor, the gap between the odds tightened with the Coalition widening a little to $1.10 and Labor coming into $6. 

As news from Canberra ebbed and flowed on the Wednesday, so too did the odds but the end point now is that the Coalition are currently $1.20 with Labor $4.50.

At the start of June, one betting agency had Labor at an extraordinary $13, which is the widest odds so far in this parliament for Labor.

It is worth noting that the betting markets for elections are not particularly liquid. It appears bets that have the bookmakers with about $1500 at risk can cause the odds to change. A cashed up punter wanting to influence the betting market, particularly on the party with the longest odds (currently Labor), can do so without digging too deep into their wallet.

There are a range of exotic betting markets for the election and not just which party will form government. 

The Coalition is considered to be extremely unlikely to gain a majority in the Senate, with 'no majority' a skinny $1.03. Odds of $9 are available for those who think a Coalition majority in the Senate will be delivered.

For the Greens, the betting markets are not good news. They currently hold one seat in the House of Representatives – Melbourne – but the odds of the Greens having any seats in the new parliament are $1.40. In other words, they are odds on to lose Melbourne and not pick up any other seats.

The odds will no doubt ebb and flow between now and polling day, with the main drivers being fresh news from the raft of public opinion polls that will no doubt be released on a regular basis over the next few months. With Rudd and Labor likely to get at least a temporary lift, as was seen in the 7News ReachTel poll which has the two-party preferred vote at 52 per cent to the Coalition and 48 per cent to Labor, it will require larger and sustained gains for Labor’s odds to shorten further.

For those thinking the Coalition is still a shoo-in, and that after the Rudd honeymoon with the electorate fades the polls will confirm a comfortable Coalition lead, $1.20 must be attractive. After all, it is difficult to find a 20 per cent tax free return for just a few months investment.

Remember, only bet what you can afford to lose.

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