Politics is a lesser known avenue for the thrill of a bet despite sharing so many traits with sport. After the upsets of 2016, with Donald Trump defying the polls to claim the US presidency shortly after the outcome of the UK’s EU referendum took the world by surprise, the political landscape’s unpredictability has rarely been so clear or worthy of a bet.
What separates the best political betting sites from the rest?
Introductory offers and welcome bonuses are a major draw for new players, and every operator takes its own approach. Free bets, matched deposits, no deposit bonuses, and risk-free bets are the most common bonuses for players to compare between operators, but it’s also important to read the fine print to make sure the offer is right for you before settling on a new site.
For example, risk-free bets often return a lost wager via a token or non-withdrawable funds in the player’s wallet, meaning players essentially get a free second chance rather than a refund. The majority of welcome bonuses will also have wagering requirements attached, meaning new players must stake a certain amount with the site before they can make cash withdrawals. Always check out the terms and conditions to be sure you know exactly what’s on offer.
Political betting has a narrower scope than sports betting, and having more options than the competition is always a big draw for new players. Typically, players can expect UK, Irish, US, European, and World politics markets from most operators, but plenty flex their creativity with different market options that reflect current affairs.
Paddy Power, for example, has a Trump-dedicated market offering odds on everything from opening Area 51 to the public to having a US Navy vessel named after him during his first term. Betfair, meanwhile, offers odds on the UK returning to the EU before 2026 while Sky Bet offers bets on the next Nobel Peace Prize winner. Each operator is different, so it’s worth taking the time to check out their individual market offerings before settling on a new site.
Once a site has won a new player with their welcome bonuses and enticing market options, they’re keen for them to stick around. These promos can take many forms, including:
- Accumulator insurance, offering money back if a player’s acca is a leg short of winning
- Free bets for players who stake a certain amount each week
- Superior odds over non-members for accumulators
- Regular price boosts
- The chance to request bets not currently available
The very best operators offer fast withdrawals, as well as a wide range of options for withdrawing and depositing cash.
E-wallets and debit cards are the bread and butter of player finances in online betting. Operators that allow PayPal are often the most secure, enabling players to withdraw and deposit money without entering their bank details whilst offering protection against fraudulent transactions. E-wallets such as PayPal are generally the fastest way to get your winnings processed and returned, with some operators offering instant withdrawals on your winnings.
While players used to be able to use credit cards to make deposits, credit card gambling was banned in the UK in April 2020.
Politics vs. sports
There are plenty of similarities between the worlds of political and sports betting that mean it’s only a small leap for players accustomed to the latter to try out the former. However, while the competition element is a logical link between betting on sports and politics, along with what to expect from the betslip, the two are very different beasts.
All of the betting options you’ll typically find in sports are also common in the political betting world, and the odds on offer are presented in the same way. Anyone familiar with sports betting already has the functional understanding of political betting, and vice versa.
What are the biggest differences between political and sports betting?
Politics offers fewer markets and events to choose from
Politics generally offers less scope for betting options than sports. Operators tend to focus on political markets that attract a broad church of new players, meaning the odds for smaller scale events, such as local elections, are harder to come by than the likes of lacrosse or college basketball in the US. Sporting fixtures also come around very frequently while elections don’t, reducing the volume of betting options and cutting the opportunities for underdogs to land an unexpected win.
Getting the full picture before placing a bet can be trickier
Politics offers cloudier waters than sports. Because major political events are infrequent, it’s harder to track how well a particular candidate is doing than it is in sports where weekly fixtures build a picture of who the best teams are and why. Lady Luck is the great leveller for both political and sports betting, but the sport’s regularity means players have far more access to up-to-date information that can help guide betting decisions.
Political odds are prone to wild fluctuations and it’s challenging to see the full picture until the very latest stages of an election. Bets placed months ahead of time are likely to show considerably different odds to those placed a week before the polls open, and those odds could shift dramatically again if a candidate is reported to have committed some wrongdoing or otherwise lands on widespread praise for something they’ve said or done.
Outsiders and underdogs are less likely to score an upset
Politics are generally less evenly-contested than sports. Between the UK’s political parties, there are only two reasonable candidates for an outright general election victory because of the way the election system is structured. It would be incredibly unlikely for the Green Party, for example, to outstrip the number of Conservative or Labour seats over several elections, let alone one.
There are plenty of options for wagers in the political world, but at present the beating heart of political betting is in calling the result of an election.
What are the most popular political betting markets?
UK operators tend to lean on a few core markets in the political betting space, with the most popular being:
- UK politics
- US politics
- European politics
- Irish politics
- World politics
Across each market, election results are the most popular betting option, although there are plenty of other areas to cast an eye on for a wager. Outrights beyond elections, including incoming legislation, party leader changes, and whether certain figures will receive state commendation are just a handful of betting opportunities under each market.
Legal status of political betting
While it’s been illegal to bet on elections across the majority of the US since 1993, it is perfectly legal in the UK and the EU to place a wager on the political sphere. The Gambling Commission regulates political betting markets in the UK just as it does with sports and casino games, meaning players have plenty of operators to choose from with confidence.
Recent results and their odds
The past five years have been rife with political upsets, particularly in the UK.
Brexit referendum, 2016
On the 23rd June 2016, where players had their last chance to place a bet on the EU referendum’s outcome, the Leave campaign was trailing Remain by a considerable margin.
A selection of some of the UK’s biggest operators shows just how unexpected the 52% win for Leave was for bookmakers:
While the bookies mispredicted the result, it’s clear that anyone daring to bet on the Leave campaign’s victory stood to win a healthy return.
UK General Election, 2017
After bookmakers failed to predict a Conservative majority for the 2015 General Election, they were set for another shocking outcome in 2017. The Conservatives triggered the election to consolidate their majority and ease the passing of legislation for Brexit, and operators were confident that Theresa May’s government would manage it.
When the election was called, Betfair offered the following odds for the election’s outcome:
- Conservative majority: 2/13
- Labour majority: 19/1
- No overall majority: 6/1
The latter option turned out to be the correct one, offering a significant return for every £1 wagered. In another unexpected political twist, the election result showed a 13-seat loss for the Conservatives, dropping from 330 to 317 and missing the 326 seats needed for a parliamentary majority.
Keep up with the best odds on the go
Mobile functionality is a top priority for operators, and every member of our lists offers bets through mobile-optimised web pages and dedicated smartphone apps. Players can enjoy the ease of access and enhanced visual presentation of mobile-dedicated platforms across all of the operators listed here, as well as mobile payment options and a streamlined betting experience.
Take advantage of offers from exciting new operators
Many of the best bonus offers are found with the biggest operators, but new sites spring up regularly with their own enticing introductory offers. New operators and sites are increasingly offering bonuses without wagering requirements (the minimum wager value that must be played before making withdrawals) and other pro-player incentives.
Compare and bet
Politics can be every bit as dramatic, unpredictable, and exciting as sports, and now is a great time for new players to try their hand at scoping out an election winner. Whether you’re a hawk for the latest political events or a casual observer with a good instinct for how big elections will turn out, there’s sure to be something for you in our list of the very best betting sites around. Compare odds, weigh up the bonuses on offer, check out which operators offer the markets you’re most interested in, and sign up for the operator that suits you best.
Frequently asked questions
Yes! Many UK operators offer a range of international markets for players to cast bets, with the major ones being US politics, European politics, and the more general world politics option.
Absolutely. While some operators may specify where and how bonuses must be applied, you can generally be confident that your sign-up bonus will be good for both political and sports-based betting.
Bookies are a competitive bunch and odds tend to look similar across different operators, especially for favourites. That being said, shopping around is always a wise move, particularly for political odds which can vary hugely depending on a range of factors and shift around regularly.
To get the best deal for you, compare odds between sites on the day you want to make your bet, and wager accordingly. Small margins between different operators might not seem worthy of your time in the short term, but those little wins add up, especially when you’re building your next accumulator.
Yes! Accumulators tend to look a little different in politics than sports as events don’t often line up as nicely as league match days except, of course, on election night. Betting on numerous candidates to win their seat during a general election, lining up a string of smaller victories that a candidate or party will need in order to win outright, and more are options for political accas.
Operators must clearly display their licence certification on their websites, but if you’re ever unsure you can check the Gambling Commission’s database to ensure your operator has a licence. If you place bets with an unlicensed operator, your funds are not lawfully protected.
Thanks to tight industry regulation, all licensed bookies are also required to provide encryption on all transactions. This ensures that your details will be protected whenever you deposit and withdraw funds from your pot. Encryption scrambles your details so they won’t be readable in the unlikely event that there’s any outside interference with the transaction.