Horse Racing

Donald Trump proves a godsend for British bookmakers

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Donald Trump is proving such a good source of income for British bookmakers that one bookie has a department solely devoted to bets related to the US president.

Interest in political betting has surged as successive votes around the world have rocked the establishment, with Trump's victory last year against Hillary Clinton coming hot on the heels of Britain's Brexit vote.

Joe Lee, head of Trump betting at Paddy Power, told an audience at the Betting on Sports conference in London on Thursday that bets ranged from impeachment to whether France would demand the return of the Statue of Liberty.

“The most popular are, will he be impeached — for which he is odds-on, and will he last the four years” said Lee. “We also have a market which asks, will France ask for the Statue of Liberty back”.

Lee, who took up the post in August, which had at one point been filled temporarily by former UK Independence Party leader and Trump ally Nigel Farage, said the odds on impeachment were unrealistically short.

“With regard to the impeachment, it is a perception fuelled by social media, which is largely going to be negative to Donald Trump,” said Lee.

“(Odds of) 4/7 are an incredibly short price for a sitting president as it is an incredibly hard thing to do (to impeach a president).”

Lee, whose firm paid out 4 million (US$5.4 million, 4.5 million euros) to punters who backed Trump to beat Clinton in 2016, said the tycoon's success had opened up the market for the next US presidential election to include some unlikely names.

“The fact that (Facebook co-founder) Mark Zuckerberg and (rapper) Kanye West are on the market prices list for the next US presidential election sums up the shake-up Trump's election has had,” said Lee.

“If, five or six years ago, someone asked me for a price on West, I would have replied 'you have got to be joking — I am not putting him on the list'.”

Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting at Ladbrokes, said his firm was also taking bets on many Trump-related issues, although they refuse bets on his assassination.

Shaddick agreed the odds on the impeachment of Trump were unrealistic and put it down to overreaction to each piece of news.

He added that there is a noticeable upsurge in betting when there is an anti-establishment candidate on the ticket in elections.

“If you compare the French presidential election earlier this year and the forthcoming German one, we took a record amount on the former — the takings on it exceeded what we anticipated by three to four times because of the media interest in (far-right candidate) Marine Le Pen.

“The German election, we will barely take anything because Angela Merkel is seen as a shoo-in.”

But both Lee and Shaddick agree that despite Trump's impact on the market, the huge takings in the past two years on political events will diminish as there is little on the immediate horizon to excite interest.

“The last two years have been record-breaking in terms of bets placed on political events,” said Shaddick.

“Last year the Grand National (horse race) was the number one event for bets placed, but the next two were the US presidential election and then the EU referendum. However, we envisage a quieter two years to come.”

Lee — who said their three market leaders last year in terms of taking money were football, horse racing and political bets — said logically there would be a fall-off in interest in the immediate future.

“We had a mass sequence of political events. It was the World Cup of political betting, a perfect storm,” he said.

“Now there will be a reduction in income as the landscape is pretty quiet.”

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