The polling was roughly on the mark, but how’d the betting markets deal with the federal election? Yesterday’s Oz concluded: not very well. A piece by Jared Owens yesterday concluded that Sportsbet was on track to lose “half of the 18 predictions it exposed to the media on election day”.

Not so fast, says Sportsbet. The betting firm’s Ben Bulmer told Crikey it had run more than 200 markets for the federal election, of which the biggest by far was the one predicting the Coalition would be sworn in (that market’s still open, and still favouring the Coalition). As for lots of the markets where Sportsbet tightened the odds in the days up to the election, betting odds should be understood as reflecting the likelihood of events. For example in Batman, Owens writes the odds on the Greens challenger narrowed close to election day, but incumbent David Feeney had odds of $1.10 — suggesting the bookie expected him to win but thought it would be a close race.

As Crikey explained last month, betting odds on individual seats are arrived at by an election trader who subjectively picks odds to the best of their ability. The odds are then adjusted depending on which way the punters are biting.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey