How to bet on Elections

09 Jul 2021
Phil Lowe 09 Jul 2021
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How to bet on elections

While most gamblers prefer to make their money on sports, politics has become increasingly popular in the gambling world in recent years, and given the occasionally unpredictable nature of world politics and election results, there is often some serious money to be made for those willing to take their chances. 

Politics can be incredibly complicated though, and placing some of your hard earned cash on the outcome of an election can be a daunting prospect. 

Fear not though, we at have got you covered with our in-depth guide on how to bet on elections. 

Election schedules

Election schedules vary from country to country with most countries holding an election every 4-5 years.  

While you may find yourself waiting for long periods between the popular elections in countries like the Uk and the USA, there are always local elections to bet on and most bookmakers will run odds on future elections all year around.  

There will also be elections taking place in both Europe and further afield, which should keep people occupied until the bigger elections roll around. 

Types of bets 

Election outrights

Election outrights are the most common types of bets placed on elections and they are simply a bet on who is going to win the election. 

These kinds of bets have often proved to be banana skins for bookmakers in recent years, and it is occasionally worth backing an outsider when it comes to this. 

Majority of votes

This market is slightly different to the election outright market because in a lot of countries, especially those that use a ‘first past the post’ system such as the UK or the USA, the candidate with the most votes doesn’t always end up winning the election. 

These votes can once again prove to quite fruitful if you fancy an outside party to cause a few upsets and snatch a lot of the votes. 


Once again, in countries that operate a ‘first past the post’ electoral system, you will normally find odds on the ‘voteshare’. 

This is basically what percentage of the vote a certain party will receive and these are often presented in percentage margins or in an over/under format. 

For example, in the UK, you may see odds on the Labour party to get between 31%-40% of the vote, or you may see it presented as over/under 40% of the vote. 

Local and by-elections

While this is not on offer for every country, most bookmakers will offer odds on local elections in the UK and the USA. The odds on these tend to be limited to just outright results and are only worth looking at if you have a particular knowledge of local politics. 

Party performance 

In countries where there are several parties competing for power such as Spain or the United Kingdom, you can often bet on how each individual party will perform. 

These types of bets will come in various different forms, with the most common being over/under style bets. For example, you may get offers on a party getting over or under 100 seats in a parliamentary election. 

Novelty bets

Politics is increasingly becoming viewed as a form of entertainment for many and it hasn’t taken bookmakers too long to wise up to that.

During an election campaign, you will find a wide range of odds being offered on different things happening during the election. These are mostly based around the behaviours of certain candidates and could include things like how many times a politician says a certain thing or what colour suit someone will be wearing. 

These bets are clearly intended as a bit of fun but they can help spice up a dull election campaign considerably. 

Special bets 

Politics is a weird and often wonderful world and as a result, bookmakers will normally have a wide variety of proposition bets available in that category. 

Odds will always be available on things like impeachments, resignations, votes of no confidences and future elections, and those with a solid understanding of international politics can often stand to make a pretty penny off these kinds of bets. 

In terms of elections- most bookmakers will also offer odds on things like voter turnout, voter demographics and various other factors. 

It is also often fairly common to find early odds for upcoming elections, and most bookmakers will have odds for things like future party leaders and future election results running all year around. Once again, these can easily be taken advantage of by those with a solid knowledge of the political climate. 

Where to bet 

Almost all major bookmakers will offer odds on the American and British elections, but if you fancy a dabble into European or international elections, you may have to search further afield. 

The betting exchange site, Smarkets tends to offer the best and earliest odds on international and European elections and tend to have several markets for politics in most countries. They also offer a great range of markets on domestic election campaigns as well.

Election Betting strategy 

Politics and elections can be among the most tricky things to bet on, largely because gauging public opinion can prove incredibly difficult. 

Opinion polls can often be an indicator, but it is worth doing your research on the company providing the polling, as a lot of newspapers and polls will often shift things to suit their own political agendas. 

Perhaps even more than in sport, it is occasionally worth backing an outsider in politics, with presidential candidates in countries like the USA and France having started out as far as 16/1 in the early stages of voting only to go on to win the election on the night.