Ladbrokes betting barometer 2239BST June 23rd
Punters aim to make money not to provide an alternative opinion indicator
As well as the cries that the polls got EURef wrong there’s been something of a backlash against the betting industry which more than at any previous election had sought to promote itself in the manner that Ladbrokes did in the graphic above.
They are being attacked for “getting it wrong” – something you’d never hear after, say, the Grand National when, as this year, a 33/1 outsider took the crown. By the same argument you could say that the “bookies get it wrong” whenever the favourite doesn’t win which is very often.
A problem is that some bookmakers have not helped themselves here. The Ladbrokes “barometer” and similar concepts from other firms did give the impression that they tried to present themselves as an alternative way of looking at opinion.
People bet to try to make money and have the satisfaction of being proved right. They are not doing it to provide an opinion poll alternative.
For me political betting is all about finding what I regard as “value” propositions where the bets available on the spreads, exchanges or with traditional bookies are understating my assessment of what could happen. Thus throughout the referendum campaign I never rated REMAIN at higher than a 55% chance.
Whenever I quote betting odds all I am doing is reporting what’s happening on the markets. Stating what the latest prices on an electoral outcome is not me saying that these are a correct indicator. In fact my whole betting approach over the decades has been to find bets where I think the prices are wrong and to suggest that there is value.
It should be said that I didn’t put a penny on REMAIN throughout the campaign even when it had big leads in the polls. The very tight prices that were offered simply did not provide any value. The risk of LEAVE doing it was always greater and I was never tempted.
What I think we are seeing is a reaction against the PR exercises run by some of the bookies to highlight their prices by such devices as the Ladbrokes barometer above.