The 2017 general election: The most profitable general election ever for the bookies

The 2017 general election: The most profitable general election ever for the bookies

Matthew Shaddick (Shadsy) of Ladbrokes on how the bookies did at the 2017 general election.

I can only speak confidently for Ladbrokes (and Corals!) but the 2017 general election was almost certainly the most profitable in history for UK bookies. After the bloodbath of a Tory majority in 2015, we managed to win most of that back with the result on Thursday.

Essentially, a hung parliament with the Tories remaining as the largest party and in government was our optimal result. If I were being greedy, I would have preferred to move a few seats out of the Labour column and into the Lib Dem totals, but otherwise it worked out as well as we could have hoped.

Any result with Labour as the largest party or one which ended up with Corbyn as PM was likely to be a disaster for the bookies, as a huge gamble from the betting shop/recreational punters of the world had swamped the “shrewder” money on various forms of Tory majority betting. Getting a hung parliament was a bit like a big football match ending in a draw – almost always a good result for us guys.

Still, there were some big winners – Labour getting over 40% of the GB vote was a 50/1 shot at the start of the campaign. Likewise, a few shrewdies managed to get 50/1 about Labour unseating Clegg in Sheffield Hallam. In fact, constituency betting as a whole was a very expensive exercise for us. It’s something we more or less expect to lose money on, but it was just impossible to keep up with the relentless shortening of Labour odds across the board.

Shout out to Betfair/Paddy Power who managed to get a full list of seat betting out very quickly and seemed to have a pretty up-to-date set of prices throughout. I’d be surprised if it stopped them losing quite a bit of cash on those though. At Ladbrokes, we simply didn’t have the time to price up and maintain all 650 seats which, in retrospect, probably saved us a lot of money; not having odds for the likes of Canterbury, Ipswich and some of the unlikely looking Labour gains in Scotland was almost certainly a good thing from our point of view.

Elsewhere, some prominent odds-makers seemed to have some horrendously out-of date constituency odds up most of the time and I can only assume they will have lost a large chunk of any no overall majority winnings on the seat markets. If we have another general election anytime soon, I expect we’ll all be staring very carefully at the incredibly successful YouGov model. Well done to those guys, hope they made a few quid!

Matthew Shaddick (Shadsy) is Head of Political Odds at Ladbrokes

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