Constituency betting is now a huge part of the overall betting market on the general election. 2010 was the first time that any bookmaker priced up every seat and we’ve given it a go again for 2015.
It’s quite hard for us bookies to make any money out of this. It is a very difficult task to keep on top of 650 different local heats where, in theory, people on the ground might have access to lots of useful information that we don’t have. We were delighted to break even in 2010 – that was mainly because we took stacks of money on the Liberal Democrats to win lots of extra seats which they spectacularly failed to do. Streatham, Durham and Hull North were three of the most notable contests where Lib Dem punters got their fingers burnt.
Ladbrokes took a nasty hit in quite a few seats. The Greens winning Brighton Pavilion was most unwelcome. However, the worst mistake we made was offering 100/1 about the Alliance Party winning Belfast East: We failed to realise that the popular ex-Lord Mayor of the city was running as their candidate and had to pay out thousands to clued up locals.
Anyway, based on the last election and the money we’ve taken so far for 2015, I’m going to take a guess at the five seats that will generate the most betting interest next year.
Nigel Farage’s presence will ensure this seat gets an enormous amount of media and polling attention and we’ve taken more money here than any other constituency so far. Initially available at 3/1, UKIP were backed down to 4/9 before yesterday’s Ashcroft poll which put the Tories ahead.
The biggest betting heat of 2010 looks sure to be near the top again. The Greens’ rise in the national polls is a good sign for Caroline Lucas, but the performance of the Green led council might not be helping her chances.
Potentially the tightest three way marginal in the country. The Lib Dem selection of popular Mayor Dorothy Thornhill has made this a live chance of being a surprise gain.
Julian Huppert seems to be all over the telly these days and has a big job hanging on to his 7,000 majority in a student town. Chuck in high profile kipper Patrick O’Flynn and the possibility of a decent Green vote to make this one even more unpredictable.
Is Danny Alexander’s high profile going to help or hinder his chances of holding on to a majority of almost 9,000 votes? The SNP’s odds have gone from 4/1 to 4/9, but recently we’ve seen a few shrewd judges backing the Lib Dems to hold on, despite their woeful Scottish poll numbers.