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British Bookmakers Expect Big Returns From 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Brendon Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendon Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Voters cast ballots in Nevada in 2011.

Ask most bookmakers in Las Vegas and they’ll tell you it’s all about the Super Bowl or March Madness.

But in London, Betfair and other bookmakers believe America’s 2016 presidential race could be the biggest political gambling event of all time.

But, if you want to place a $50 on the election you’ll have to fly to London, because Las Vegas sports books won’t take your bet.

So, who are the favorites as we head toward Super Tuesday? And, who does Betfair believe has the best odds of taking over the White House in November.

Paul Krishnamurty is a journalist and political analyst with Betfair. He recently wrote for Politicoabout why he put money on Ted Cruz .

He then spent a very long week in Nevada to see if his bet on Texas Republican Ted Cruz to win the GOP nomination was a good one.


Who is going to win the 2016 Presidential Election?

The market, the BetFair market, certainly points toward Hillary Clinton. Has done consistently. My personal analysis is it really depends on who the Republic nominee is. If it’s Donald Trump, then strongly recommend Hillary Clinton. But if it’s Marco Rubio – different ball game.

What are the odds looking like for the former Secretary of State?

So, to express it in percentage terms, she’s rated 54 percent likely to be president and the next best is 18 percent which is Trump and Rubio.

What could change those percentages?

It is very hard to see Clinton’s percentage change in the short term. If she’s up against Donald Trump, unless the polls change dramatically and Trump’s favorability numbers change dramatically, she’ll be consistently the favorite throughout. Rubio is a completely different situation though because I’m guessing that a lot of people in America that don’t know him yet. Personally, my thought is he very electable.  

Why do you think Rubio has a big chance to win against Hillary Clinton?

Because I don’t sense a great enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. I think ancedotely, speaking to several people across the United States in several states, it is very hard to find people say anything good about her. I think the Democrats have made a mistake in not having a more open contest, maybe Joe Biden not running. Or indeed, Bernie Sanders seems systemically incapable of doing it because of super delegates.

Why did you put money on Sen. Ted Cruz to win the nomination?

That is about the odds. When I backed him, he was merely a 3 percent chance for the nomination. And I made money on that as the odds rose quite dramatically. My long-term analysis, dating back eight years really, is that this mood for an outsider within the Republican camp has been there a long time. And in 2012, I felt that there was potential for an outsider candidate to win the Republican nomination, but they didn’t have a good one. Romney almost one by default. He struggled. He almost crawled over the line against poor opposition. This time around I could see this was clearly the time and six months ago, we had three outsiders: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz. For my money, Ted Cruz was easily strongest candidate with the resources and the nationwide network. I make no bones about it. I underestimated Trump. I didn’t think he would be here now. I think he would have imploded by now.

Why are bookmakers so much better than the polls in predicting who is going to win an election?

First of all, the opinion polls are correctly operating a very rigid formula. So they’re trying to be scientific and therefore they can’t stray from what numbers tell them. They can’t make a value judgement that people might be lying, for instance, or young people are less likely to turn out.

Whereas, someone like myself, or a serious political gambler, we’re free to take into account all of these extra factors. Now, the other thing I would say is because our money is on the line, we’re neutral.

What is BetFair expecting?

That is really hard to say because this is going to be the biggest one ever.


Trump. Trump and Sanders. 

Four years ago, that was I think the biggest one ever or the joint biggest one ever with the U.K. [election]. First of all that Next President market, that’s just one market, there’s dozens of markets. Virtually every angle of the race is covered. That is the biggest one. But six months out, last time around, people were only just getting interested. When I put that $10,000 bet on Obama that was two years out but it wasn’t an easy bet to get matched. I had to leave it up there for a week. Ever since Trump entered this race, those markets have been lively, really lively.

Paul Krishnamurty, professional gambler, journalist and political analyst with Betfair

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