From Eurovision To Politics Bookmakers Call It Right
by Warwick Bartlett, CEO Global Betting and Gaming Consultants
A recent article in the Sunday Times reported that the UK’s politicians were turning away from opinion polls to check on their popularity with the electorate and were looking more than ever at the betting odds. It would seem that the bookmakers get it right more often than the opinion pollsters. The reason is that when people place bets with real money they are serious about it. Stop someone in the street and they will probably feel embarrassed to tell you about how they really feel about politicians and they tell fibs or what they think you want to hear.
The bookmakers are calling it right on many special events betting. The Eurovision Song Contest was a good example.

To most of the UK population this song contest is one of those insufferable programmes that since the enlargement of the Europe Union we cannot hope to win. So we send awful songs, performed by unknown or past it singers. We watch only to laugh at the voting at the end. Fairness doesn’t appear to come into it yet somehow the winner seems to be a deserving choice. 

So on the 26 May I lost control of the TV remote and was forced to watch it yet again. How was I going to cope with three hours of this? I flipped open the lap top to study the betting. In play betting is fantastic at making a dull event interesting.
The bookmakers had Loreen from Sweden singing Euphoria as favourite at 7/4. I didn’t think that such odds in a contest with so many runners was very good value, I decided to wait. Then this hot looking Italian appeared – Nina Zilli: she sang well, good song and sounded a little like the great Amy Winehouse. Check the odds 16/1, that’s more like it so I placed my first bet. Listened to the other singers checked the odds again, Nina had drifted to 33/1 and backed her again. Then she went to 50/1 – how can this be? Easy. I apparently know nothing about popular music. 
Lesson learned.
Loreen was now 5/4. The Russian Grannies were 6/1 second favourites. Loreen came first with Russian Grannies second. The bookmakers got it right again. They had calculated that reciprocal voting would take place between Greece and Cyprus, Norway and Sweden, all the new states in the former Yugoslavia would vote for each other, as would all the states that buy oil and gas from Russia and would want to stay warm this coming winter. No one would vote for the UK – we are an island with no adjoining countries, have a history of making war, and we sent a lousy song and an ageing singer. 
Sorry, Engelbert you were great in your day but not today.
The bookmakers who understand the failings of the human form better than anyone recognised that with the entire partisan voting taking place that those same countries would vote for Sweden as their best second choice. No wonder Prime Minister David Cameron watches the odds and not the opinion polls.