SBC’s new fortnightly ‘Betting on Sports webinar series’ kicked off this week with Rare Breed – Betting on Politics, comprising an expert panel assessing the intricacies of betting on what many view as the last authentic trading market. 

Speaking on the panel were Sarbjit Bakhshi, Head of Politics, Smarkets; Matt Shaddick, Head of Ladbrokes Politics; and Steve Donoughue, Owner/CEO of  

While the ongoing battle for the Conservative leadership and myriad issues around Brexit gave political expert Donoughue plenty of room for contemplation, talk inevitably turned to the 2020 US Presidential election and how betting markets might shape up in the approach to the big election day.

Shaddick predicted: “Trump is going to be the biggest market ever. Certainly looking forward to the US Presidential Election next year. There’s only one way that’s going to go in the minds of our customers and if that happens we’ve got to be prepared for a huge liability on Trump because that’s the way people are thinking about this. It doesn’t matter what his polling looks like or what the odds are, I can say with a lot of certainty that we’re going to run up a huge liability on him whatever happens.”  

According to Shaddick Trump, in a way, is “…such a unique President”. “He’s polarized opinion in a way that no-one else ever has and even looking back at trends and patterns in past Presidential Elections is going to be difficult in terms of extrapolating a result,” he advised. “But in a way that can be good for betting markets. It gets more people interested; you can have an opinion which might be completely right based on any particular data, so it’s probably good for us in the long run.”

Addressing the potential influence Trump and the election might have on UK politics, Bakhshi commented: “I’m not sure how much effect it would have over here (UK). I think that Boris and Trump have connections and that people are interested in both of them becoming leaders. Other than that I’m not sure that Trump has the interest or the level of detail necessary to consider who Jeremy Corbyn really is. He’s busy fighting his own Presidential election and that will absorb a lot of his time.” 

Bakhshi also believes that it is too soon to make a reasoned call on who will emerge as the winner. “It’s wide open at this stage and it’s a long way to go,” he cautioned. “We see that on our prediction markets. Every time you see someone make a good speech we see a little bit of activity on that market, but we’re so far out. 

“It’s also going to be interesting to see whether America turns to a populist to beat Trump. Bernie Sanders – I don’t want to call him a populist – but he has that kind of populist appeal and Beta O’Rourke is looking good at the moment. But we’re so far out it’s hard to say.” 

Expressing his opinion on which candidates might represent a worthwhile bet, Shaddick offered: “I think that the best bet at the moment is Biden because the public has totally overreacted to one rather dull debate performance and he’s now two or three times the price he was a few weeks ago. But he’s still ahead in virtually every poll of democratic voters. He’s the one who’s way ahead of Trump when you talk about match-ups. So at 10 or 12 to one to win the Presidency he’s a good bet at the moment.” 

One of the big takeaways from SBC’s first webinar is that the betting firms will have their hands full for the next 12 months at least thanks to a frantic political agenda and that they, themselves, admit that they are not the best predictors of political outcomes. But Shaddick was confident of at least one thing: “The good thing about the 2020 US Presidential election is that I’m very, very confident it will be the biggest political betting event ever.”