Vote Leave has shortened from 4/1 to 5/4 but Remain is still favourite to win at 8/13. In my own unscientific way I have been taking straw polls amongst the people I know and it seems to come down to the following groups:
• Land-based gambling operators over the age of 40 favour the Leave campaign. They are fed up with the various directives that are costly to implement and serve no purpose.
• The younger e-gaming operators under the age of 40 favour Remain. They argue that markets are opening up in Europe that would not have done so were it not for the European Courts of Justice, and the Commission censuring countries. Without that, Europe would be a grey market with the attendant risks to trade. But the process of change is already in place, were Britain to exit the EU I cannot see anything stopping companies from setting up a company in say France or Denmark and obtaining a licence. The impetus for further change, however, is coming from the UK rather than other member states.
• People living south of Oxford marginally favour Remain, but the further north from central London you go the closer it becomes.
• From Oxford going north I believe Vote Leave has it. People tell me that they have been priced out of work by immigrants who are prepared to share housing and work for less. They feel forgotten and let down.
• Business people employing immigrants favour Remain.
• People working for large corporations favour Remain. They have been told to vote that way by their employers.
• Small to medium sized business not employing migrant labour want out of the EU.
So it comes down to this: are there sufficiently enough disaffected voters to outnumber the more affluent southerners for Leave to win? The turnout on the day will be crucial. Will the “undecided” make a choice and vote or let others decide for them? An unexpected event, beyond the control politicians, that could occur closer to the day of the vote could sway voters either way.
At the time of writing the betting market give Remain a 70% chance of winning according to the Financial Times, which is pro Remain. But the paper does note how hopeless the polls have been in the past, and query whether the polls are influencing, and even leading the betting markets which historically have a better record of forecasting the elections than the opinion polls.
The Financial Times analysed the betting odds prior to the last election and said on 10 June that “based on the average odds across mainstream bookmakers, the Conservatives began to open up a lead in February 2015, over Labour in terms of implied likelihood of being the party with the most seats, but the gap didn’t become a yawning gulf until only a final fortnight before election day.”
The “undecided” in double digits is testimony to the quality of the campaigns. They have both been dire. Lies, misinformation, reckless unsubstantiated claims about the risk of staying or leaving and the media bias has been all too prevalent.
For me the issue is not about what we pay into the EU. It is not about the trade agreements. It is about the risks involved with remaining part of the EU. The Club Med countries are in a dreadful state, the Euro currency has created mass unemployment. The Euro single currency was not an economic project it was a political project. When politics gets in the way of sound economic principles you are in trouble. Politicians find it so difficult to change a policy they have set in stone, and genuine reform seems a long way off.
What I have to decide is whether the risks of staying are higher than the disruption of leaving. In the end the odds are probably right, people will vote for what they know, and what is today, because that is, to their mind, quantifiable. The gambling industry regardless of the outcome, will just carry on.