About 80% of the money that Cloudbet has taken on the US election has been on Trump and the Republicans – and it’s a theme evident at other books as well – with many on the record as saying a huge proportion of money has come in for Trump.
So why is Joe Biden so far ahead in the polls and the odds on favourite? Whatever happens tonight someone is going to lose big – either pollsters, bookmakers or punters.
Crypto betting operator Cloudbet tries to explain explain how these odds have been set.
Source: Cloudbet; % figures/colour indicate probability of victory in that state as implied by current betting odds
Initial odds are formed on presidential candidates by bookies in pretty much the same way as a major sporting event: The book takes a view on the chances of each candidate winning, splitting up the 100% quantum of probabilities between the number of candidates left in the race.
In short – as with a sporting contest – what are the chances of A prevailing over B, what influences those chances, and what price would you charge someone to back those chances (really, it boils down to what’s the price at which a book would be willing to accept the risk of losing a bet)?
But there is a major obstacle when it comes to setting prices for elections: the lack of observable data or analysis. Yes, there are a plethora of polls and more news and rumour than you can swing a cat at for the present election – but it’s all down to one contest – one that has never played out before.
Next, is how bettors respond to those prices based on what influences their perceptions of value and candidate probabilities. And the quantum of bets they place ostensibly is a good safe indicator for bookies to shape the prices for either candidate. We say “ostensibly” with good reason…
Then – what do the polls say? If you can trust the polls, you can simply equate a reliable poll percentage with an implied probability, and you have a reliable price indicator – right?
Wrong, as anyone who followed betting odds during the 2016 election will tell you. Prices on Trump in the lead up to Election Day had widened as far as 9 (+800) – implying a win probability of 11%. And we know the result…
So here then is this election’s major challenge for bookmakers: Trump has beaten the odds before. Do you really want to expose your business to massive losses by pricing him too far out of the market, whatever the polls are telling you?
Bettors are clearly aware of what happened in 2016 – and books are clearly seeing substantial interest on Trump, in spite of what the election polls indicate. About 80% of
the money that Cloudbet has taken on the US election has been on Trump and the Republicans.
While there could be a point made about the predispositions within the bitcoin community that might make them more right-leaning (if not directly Trump-supporting), people are certainly betting that he could do it again.
So why is Biden still favoured to win by every book on the street?
It can’t just be the polls making operators set these odds. Someone must be betting on him, in size.
We estimate that betting exchanges are seeing roughly half of the action on the US election. Betfair alone expects to take £240million on this election. The single biggest betting event in history. They’ve clearly taken some sizable Biden bets – including one for £1,000,000. We’re not suggesting that exchanges are the key indicator of an event’s outcome – but from a bettor’s perspective, it’s good to know where the action is. And it helps betting operators across the world to form views on value in the odds.
And there we have it. The current betting odds give Trump a 35% chance of victory.
Pollsters such as FiveThirtyEight suggest his chance is only half that.
Cloudbet odds on the eve of election predict this:
- The Dems still have it: State-by-state odds compiled by Cloudbet indicate 287 college votes for Dems, 204 for Republicans, (unchanged from two weeks earlier).
- Biggest event ever: This U.S. election is already the highest turnover event in Cloudbet’s history (biggest event by value of bets placed). By number of players betting, the election is second to the Connor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather superfight in 2017.
- On a Biden/Trump two-way, 80% of the money is on The Donald retaining the presidency.
- Florida in the red: About 86% of the money bet on the Florida state outcome is for the Republicans, according to Cloudbet data.
Numbers indicate probability of victory (%).
|Oct. 7||Oct. 14||Oct 21||Nov 2||College votes|
|Florida||D 51.6 v R 48.4||D 56.7 v R 43.3||D 49.3% v R 50.7%||D 40.6% vR 59.4%||29|
|Oct. 7||Oct. 14||Oct. 21||Nov 2||College votes|
|Pennsylvania||D 68.6 v R 31.4||D 72.1 v R 27.9||D. 73 v R 27||D 61.8 v
|Michigan||D 73.9 v R 26.1||D 78.7 v R 21.3||D 68.6 v R 31.4%||D 72.9 vR 27.1||16|
|Wisconsin||D 71.2 v R 28.8||D 73 v R 27||D 74% v R 26||D 73.9 v
- GOP winning more favour in other key battleground states: The moves are especially significant in Ohio, where the odds are very firmly in the Republicans’ favour now, and North Carolina. Numbers indicate probability of victory (%).
|Oct. 7||Oct 14||Oct 21||Nov 2||College votes|
|Iowa||D 37.5 v R 62.5||D 39.9 v R 60.1||D 35.9 v R 64.1||D 30.6 v
|Georgia||D 40 v R 60||D 42 v R 58||D 39.8 v R 60.2||D 39.9 v
|Ohio||D 41.8 v R 58.2||D 43.2 v R 56.8||D 36.3 v R 63.7||D 32.6 vR 67.4||18|
|North Carolina||D 50.9 v R 49.1||D 53.4 v R 46.6||D 53.9 v R 46.1||D 50.2R 49.8||15|
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