Why Bet on Politics?
Political betting dates back centuries in the UK, and its popularity is growing faster than ever thanks to recent years’ busy schedule for voters. The 2010s saw four General Elections, double the number it would have been if each parliament had sat for the full and traditional five years, so there has been no shortage of opportunities to stick a wager on who will next lead the country.
While political betting opportunities come around far less frequently than sports fixtures, political betting can nonetheless offer the same excitement, nail-biting moments and winning opportunities.
General Elections Explained
How do General Elections work?
The UK’s political system is divided between two chambers: the House of Commons, and the House of Lords. The House of Commons is composed of democratically elected officials known as Members of Parliament (MPs), while the seats in the Lords are filled by appointed members and hereditary peers. New and modified legislation is debated and voted on in the House of Commons before passing to the House of Lords, acting as a failsafe to rushed or controversial bills by putting legislation through a second stage of voting.
While the voting-age population can’t elect members of the Lords, every seat in the House of Commons is up for grabs in General Elections. Political parties challenge for seats in geographically-specific zones known as constituencies, with the MP for each being decided by which candidate receives the most votes in their constituency during a General Election or by-election. MPs hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved in advance of the next election, or until a by-election is called in their constituency.
In order for a political party to claim a ‘majority’—the number of seats required to form a full government—they must win 326 of 650 seats, thereby ensuring that the ruling party can pass legislation if every MP within that party votes in the same way, regardless of how other parties’ MPs vote. MPs may vote against their party, of course, meaning a small majority is not as powerful as a larger one where a few rebels will be unable to block legislation they disagree with.
By-elections occur when an MP stands down or otherwise calls an election within their constituency between General Elections, meaning small majorities, such as the Conservative party’s 330 seats going into the 2017 election, can be fragile.
Political Parties and Leaders
There are dozens of registered political parties at present, with the most prominent being the following:
- Conservative, led by Boris Johnson
- Labour, led by Keir Starmer
- Liberal Democrats, led by acting co-leaders Ed Davey and Mark Pack
- The Green Party, led by co-leaders Siân Berry and Jonathan Bartley
- The Scottish National Party (SNP), led by Nicola Sturgeon
- Plaid Cymru, led by Adam Price
- The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), led by Arlene Foster
What Can I Bet On?
When it comes to General Elections, there are several things you can wager on before the polling stations open. In fact, you can bet on various outcomes years in advance. Here’s a breakdown of the different bets you can often place on General Elections both before and after they’re officially called.
First and foremost, betting on which party will form a majority government, winning the election outright, is the most popular General Election bet.
No Majority/Hung Parliament/Minority Government
You can bet on a range of options that essentially boil down to this: no party has secured a majority. If no party has a majority after an election, this is known as a ‘hung parliament’ and a few different things can happen to resolve it.
The party with the most seats can attempt to form a minority government where parliament is led by a party that can’t force legislation through, parties can club together to establish a coalition or confidence and supply arrangement to collectively exceed the 326 seats needed for a majority, or another election can be held. If you can’t see any party landing a majority, as was the case in 2010 and 2017, plenty of operators offer bets on these outcomes.
Slightly different to betting on which, if any, party will secure a majority, this bet simply looks at which party secures the most seats regardless of whether they can form a majority government.
Next Prime Minister
Another alternative to betting on an outright winner is picking out who will be Prime Minister once the election is over. Bets on the next PM are open from the day a new one takes office.
If a party is just short of the required seats for a majority, they can form a coalition with other parties to boost their collective number of seats to 326 and beyond. Some bookies offer odds on the next government being a coalition, which can be a canny pick for bettors who have a grasp of which parties are likely to ally with others and why. That being said, there has only ever been one coalition government in modern British politics — the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition that ran from 2010 to 2015.
Once a majority has been achieved, the new Prime Minister then appoints ministers to head up various government departments. The resulting team is known as the Cabinet, and bookies often offer odds on which MPs will take each role.
Leaders to Stand Down
In the event of a defeat, party leaders may choose to stand down. Some bookmakers will offer bets on such outcomes, with the most recent example being Jeremy Corbyn announcing that he would resign as Labour leader following the 2019 General Election defeat.
Many bookies offer odds on which party will win particular seats. It pays to check out how a party fared in that constituency last time around, as some outcomes are considerably more nailed on than others. For example, if Labour had a 10,000 vote advantage over the runner-up in the previous election, that seat would be considered safe. A 10,000 vote swing is highly unlikely. However, if it only came down to a few hundred votes between first and second place, the next winner for that constituency isn’t so clear cut.
Year of the Next Election
General Elections are typically held once every five years. Early elections, however, can be called through a vote in parliament by the incumbent government. Votes of no confidence can also trigger an early election, although these are rarely successful. As such, many sites offer odds on when the next General Election will take place. If you have doubts about the current government’s longevity in the country’s highest office, for example, you can place a wager on which year you think an early election will be called.
How Have Recent Elections Played Out?
2017 General Election
The Conservative’s majority from 2015 wasn’t big enough to smoothly pass the party’s Brexit legislation in the House of Commons, and so Theresa May called the 2017 General Election to capitalise on what was perceived as weakness in the Labour Party’s election chances to thereby build a larger majority.
The bookies were confident that the Conservatives were on track to brush Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour aside, as indicated by Betfair’s odds offering 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
Once again, polls and operators were wrong about the outcome. Labour performed considerably better than expected, and the Conservatives came to lose their majority by dropping from 330 seats to 317, narrowly missing the 326 required.
2019 General Election
With the clock ticking for a withdrawal agreement from the EU to be passed in the House of Commons, and no majority to force it through, MPs approved another early General Election in late 2019. Now led by Boris Johnson, bookmakers were confident that his popularity would be the catalyst for a Conservative majority.
In the closing stages of the election campaign, Betfair shared the following odds:
- Conservative majority: 13/25
- Labour majority: 31/1
- No overall majority: 11/5
This time, the bookies were on the money. The Conservatives won by a significant margin to send their majority up to 365, dwarfing Labour’s 202 and delivering the Conservative’s biggest share of the Commons since 1987.
The leading betting operators ensure that players can pay in the most convenient, secure, and reliable ways possible, and each site ranked on Compare.bet offers multiple payment options. Whether you prefer the simplicity of a debit card or the ease of managing your funds with e-wallets, there’s sure to be an option that suits you.
Our preferred option is with e-wallets, as they are the most secure and convenient option for making deposits and withdrawals.
As of April 2020, credit cards are banned from use with UK gambling operators.
PayPal is one of the most popular e-wallets around thanks to its simplicity, speed, and security features.
Neteller offers a winning combination of e-wallet and card services so you can easily manage your spending.
Skrill's offering is predicated on speed and convenience, and it's easy to recommend to anyone making online betting payments.
Paysafecard makes managing your spending a breeze thanks to its pre-paid card and PIN management systems.
Spice Up Your Bet Slip with Accumulators
Accumulators can, of course, contain selections that are due to be completed on separate days, but why not take advantage of election night’s countless wagering options? Many operators include politics alongside sportsbooks for accumulator bets, offering the chance to add several bets to your accumulator on everything from winners by constituency to cabinet appointments. Be sure to check an operator’s terms and conditions around accumulators before settling on the one that’s right for you, as restrictions may be in place for particular bets, their eligibility for acca insurance and promos, and their impact on any wagering requirements you’re under.
Claim Your Bonuses Today
Welcome bonuses, accumulator bonuses, promotions, VIP programmes, and other incentives are the hallmarks of modern betting operators, and our rankings take all of these into account when ranking them for your comparison. Every operator is different, but we’ve taken the legwork out of finding out who offers what, making it easy for you to find the site that works best for you.
Take Advantage of Great Offers from New Sites
The best bonus offers and incentives are generally offered by the industry’s big, established names, but that doesn’t mean you should discount new operators whilst making your selection. New sites might not offer the most lucrative freebies, but many make up for it with pro-player incentives, such as no wagering bonuses that don’t require you to bet a certain amount before unlocking withdrawals. Once you’re a registered player, new sites are also likely to make it worth your while with additional promotions, weekly bonuses, VIP access, and more.
Keep Up with the Latest Odds on the Go
Every operator ranked and reviewed on Compare.bet offers a mobile-optimised website and/or a dedicated smartphone app. The ease of use, streamlined interface, access to your bet slip no matter where you are, and payment options offered by mobile-oriented operators are a winner for any bettor. Whilst checking out and comparing the operators listed here, be confident that, no matter your choice, you’ll have access to a great mobile experience.
Legal Status of Political Betting
Political bets are legal in the UK and follow a centuries-long history of sticking wagers on incoming leaders. All of the operators reviewed and ranked on Compare.bet are fully licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), so you can be sure that every site to compare and select here is perfectly above board.
Sign Up and Cast Your First Bet!
Now that you’re clued up on betting on General Elections, take a look at our rankings for the best operators around. We’ve combed through the industry to find the operators that offer players the best experience, bonuses, market variety, and much more so you can compare with ease. Even though we could we way off from the next General Election, why not cast your wager on the next Prime Minister or when the next election will be held? Select the operator that suits you best, sign up for your free welcome bonuses, and cast your first bet!
Generally speaking, you should be able to use your bonus funds on politics in the same way you would for sports betting. All operators are different, and their individual terms and conditions may put restrictions on where and how you can use your bonus, as well as what kinds of bet contribute to your wagering requirements. Be sure to read the fine print for your operator of choice.
Political odds can vary and fluctuate wildly, especially in General Elections where the 650 seats up for grabs are just a handful of the variables affecting a party’s chances of winning outright. These variations can occur daily depending on how candidates and their parties are faring, so be sure to check up on the odds on offer on the day you cast your bet. Operators are competitive and tend to offer similar odds for the big-ticket bets, but there’s every chance you could stumble on a rare opportunity with a bit of shopping around.
Yes! Although markets on offer can be limited to UK, Irish, European, and US politics, many operators offer extensive odds selections on each of these markets and more. The UKGC ensures that operators’ offerings are legal, so you can be confident that a licensed site is showing international bets that are legal and compliant.
Every operator reviewed and listed on Compare.bet is licensed by the UKGC. Known as one of the world’s premier betting industry regulators, the UKGC ensures that operators offer fair odds and games, provide encryption for all customer transactions and that their terms and conditions are clear and easy to find. Operators generally display their licence certification on their website, but if you’re ever unsure about a site’s licence you can look it up on the UKGC’s public register. Your funds are not legally protected if you place a bet with an unlicensed operator, so be sure to check for a licence if you have any doubts.