Bet the Lodge: Polling power

This week's move in the betting markets highlights just how much bookies are dependent on poll swings – with the seat of New England the exception to the rule.

It is pretty clear from trends this week that polls lead betting markets, at least when it comes to the probabilities of which side will win the September 14 election.

After the Essential Research, Nielson and Newspoll polls were released on Monday with new information showing in aggregate and on average a small lift in Labor’s primary vote, the betting odd of a Labor victory at the election narrowed from as wide as $9.60 to $6.50.

The Coalition’s odds widened, having been as tight as $1.04 at one stage, out to $1.10.

Clearly the odds still overwhelming favour a sizable Coalition victory, but there was an opportunity for those who reckon Labor has a snowflakes chance in hell of winning to get a 10 per cent tax free return for an investment over four months.

After Labor’s Kevin Rudd ventured back into the public domain with his conversion to supporting same sex marriages, the betting moved back to the Coalition, who came back in to $1.09, and away from Labor, who are back out to $7 and as much as $8 with some betting agencies.

This also makes it clear that either the bookies or the punters, or both, react to the new information that is contained in the polls or they react to news that is seem to be undermining one side or another – in this case, Rudd’s high profile efforts to appear different and a reasonable character.

There have been similar directional changes in the other so-called exotic markets. The Coalition are even money – $2 – to win 101 or more seats in the 150 member House of Representatives. Labor is $201 to win 101 or more seats.

It is of interest that despite reports of a poll showing independent Tony Windsor with a strong double-digit lead over the National Party candidate, Barnaby Joyce, in the seat of New England, Windsor is $3 to retain the seat while Joyce is a hot favourite at $1.30.

Odds are also being offered on whether Clive Palmer’s new Palmer’s United Party will win any seats at all in the House of Representatives. Current odds have 'no seats' at $1.20 while winning 'any seat at all' is $4. At those odds, it looks like Palmer’s efforts to become prime minister will go the way of the Titanic.

There are still 16 weeks 'til polling day and while the old saying is that “a week is a long time in politics”, it would appear that Labor need a change in fortune for the betting odds to move much more in their favour, despite the little betting swing to it in the last week.

Remember, only bet what you can afford to lose.

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

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