Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, in profile looking sad.

When the election was called for July 4th, over a hundred betting questions appeared on bookies’ websites, more upon enquiry. Individual constituency races make up most of them, but one can also conveniently bet on, for instance, overall turnout, Conservative seat losses and Liberal Democrat vs. Conservative vote share. For committed political gamblers these questions have preoccupied them since February last year, 2023. 

The perceived likelihood of a Conservative majority dropped to around 10% then, hovered there for a while, and then fell roughly 1% a month for the last 9 months. It is now at 1%. There is little or no more ‘value’ left in the question of who will win. 

This might seem to dampen the excitement, but the unprecedented polling and potential collapse of both the Conservatives and SNP make other markets highly interpretable. Will tactical voting favour Liberal Democrats in three-way contests, or will a Labour sweep the country? How many seats will the SNP win? Will Nigel Farage win in Clacton? 

For the gamblers I research, all these questions come together into a kind of portfolio of bets that express a ‘betting thesis’ about what is, despite the overall outcome, a seminal and therefore understanding-stretching transformation in our politics.