While it has no place in the USA currently, gambling on elections is rife in most European countries and no other election has ignited interest so much as the 2016 Presidential Election. Whether it was the divisive rhetoric, or the fact a Celebrity was involved, the 2016 elections saw huge sums of money change hands after Trump’s win. Does this exemplify the disenchantment felt by many regarding the 2016 election, and show the disconnect that led to so few people voting?
Markets slumped after the announcement of Donald Trump’s win. The Dow Jones was down 400 points and global markets such as the NIKKEI also struggled. It even affected some of the richest people in the world. Carlos Sim who is Mexico’s richest man lost approximately $5b of his personal wealth because of the faltering Mexican Peso. It seemed everyone was losing money. There were some out there however who benefitted financially from the news. Political gamblers.
Hillary was not only the favorite in the polls, but also with gambling experts in Europe’s biggest bookmakers. So many people were emotionally invested in the 2016 election that naturally a percentage of them tried to take financial advantage of the political climate, consequently turning the election into one of the biggest niche betting markets of 2016. In the UK alone £267m was staked on the outcome. Clinton never got longer than 16/1, whilst Trump started at 250/1, very much an outsider.
These odds led to some big wins for a lucky few. Top Iranian-British real estate mogul Vincent Tchenguiz won £1.2m, while an unknown gambler put £200k on Trump to win at the last minute and walked away with £500k. So confident was Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker, they actually paid out £1m worth of winnings for people who bet on Clinton a month early and have been left with egg on their face as well as an empty bank balance. “We’re in the business of making predictions and decided to put our neck on the line by paying out early on Hillary Clinton, but boy did we get it wrong,” said Paddy Power spokesman Feilim Mac An Iomaire, according to Bloomberg News. “We’ve been well and truly thumped by Trump.”
It is not the only Political upset that caught out the bookmakers of Europe. Brexit had a similar effect. If you combined a $5 bet on Trump, Brexit and Leicester City to win the Premier League (which had the longest odds of 2016), you would have earned $15m!
There appears to be a recent trend in betting in which political events, hyped by the media, excite people into exploiting money making opportunities at the expense of political progress. Politics is engaging in all the wrong ways in 2016. While some risk averse individuals make a quick buck, it will be the ones who don’t have millions of dollars that will suffer due to a lack of enthusiasm for the political process. Whilst the gambling fraternity will be rubbing their hands with glee at future elections it may well become an indicator of an election getting out of hand when millions of dollars are being exchanged, and not in political donations.