Betting on politics is probably not wise if you are a politician, or operate in that world, as several advisors, prospective MPs and police found out in the run-up to the 2024 UK General Election. Whether outright stupidity explains the actions of the many individuals who got caught out, or whether it was a heady mix of greed, corruption and stupidity, we do not know. However, if you aren’t bidding to take your place in the House of Commons, aren’t best friends with the PM, and don’t have illegal insider information, then betting on politics can be a whole lot of fun.

You can either view it as a bit of a novelty bet, or take things more seriously and seek to use your personal understanding of current affairs and the state of the nation to try and win some cash off the bookies. Or you can use it as a bit of a personal hedge, betting against the party or individual you want to win so that even if they lose, at least you make a few quid out of it. There are lots and lots of different markets available, with most major betting sites covering politics in some depth these days. The best politics betting sites will offer odds on a whole host of elections and issues around the world. The UK and the US tend to be the main focus but you will also see odds offered on elections in most major European countries, plus Australia as well. For those interested in politics, this offers a wealth of opportunities to spice things up and put your knowledge to the test.

Main Markets

As with any “sport”, much of the money that is staked on politics is centred on a few main markets. All sites will offer these, whilst some of the less popular bets may only be available at certain bookmakers. Note that some of these are specific to one country or type of vote, whilst others are more general.

Most Seats

This is very popular in UK betting but may be applicable in other nations too. You are not betting on which party will form the government or who the next PM will be, but simply on which party will earn the most seats (in the UK this would be in the House of Commons).

Overall Majority

A similar bet to the party with the most seats, this is a wager on whether a given party will obtain a majority. Again, this is mainly a bet that is offered in the UK but is applicable to other elections where a similar system exists. Note that “No Overall Majority” is typically an option with this bet.

Party Seats

There are various markets related to how many seats each of the major parties might win. Some bookmakers may offer this as an over/under market, whilst others may offer the bet in bands. So, for example, at the 2024 UK General Election you may have been able to bet on the Conservatives to win 50-99 seats, 100-149 and so on, or, alternatively, you might have seen a bet on over/under 99.5 seats.

Party Leader Betting

There are a range of bets offered in relation to the leaders of the various parties. These include who the next leader will be (which may or may not include the incumbent), whether the current leader will still be in charge by a certain date, or the next election, and others.

Next PM or President

This is a simple bet on who the next Prime Minister or, for example in the US, the next President will be. This will typically not include the current, serving leader. However, there may be very similar markets for who the leader will be after the current election, and these will include the incumbent.

Voter Turnout

As well as betting on the outcome of elections more directly, there are alternative options that do not entail predicting who will do well. One of these concerns the voter turnout, which is a bet on what percentage of the electorate will exercise their right to vote. This market will not typically be offered in countries like Australia where voting is mandatory. However, in the UK it is a common market, with bets offered in bands, for example 55-59%, 60-64% and so on.

Date of Election

This market is not offered in nations that have fixed terms, such as the US, but is a popular market in the UK. Initially this is offered in broad bands, for example, 2023, 2024 or 2025, but these tighten as the last possible date of an election draws closer, and may be restricted to months. A good market if you happen to be pally with the PM and know for a fact when the election will be, although you’d have to be a complete moron to place a bet using your own account in this scenario!

Betting Tips and Strategy

Ultimately, as with any bet, it pays to do your research. This means keeping as up to date as possible with what is going on politically, monitoring the many polls that exist these days, and generally trying to get a feel for how popular opinion is changing. As ever, the bookies do all this and more, so beating their odds is not easy. However, polls have often proved to be wrong, albeit they are getting better are generally more accurate than people give them credit for. Additionally, if you react very quickly to new information, you may be able to get a bet on at inflated odds before the betting sites have reacted. Around the biggest elections many bookies have betting offers that can help swing things your way. These may include free bets, both for new and current customers, enhanced odds, money back promotions and odds boosts. Using these can definitely give you a better chance of winning overall but ultimately political betting should be seen as a bit of fun, certainly as far as most average punters are concerned. Good luck, and may the least useless person win!