Why it’s wise to look at the EU Referendum betting, not the polls

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The thorny subject of the UK’s EU Referendum has made its way firmly back on the agenda this week.

And amongst all of the predictions being made about the likely outcome it’s easy to get caught up in an endless stream of pollster punditry.

The latest average of opinion polls on the EU Referendum say that this is pretty much a toss up. Yet, here at Ladbrokes, Remain is a very strong favourite at 2/5.

How come the betting markets see this so differently from the polls?

Well, does anyone remember the Scottish referendum?

Here too, the polls were indicating a very close finish right up until polling day, but with No a pretty clear favourite in the betting.

No ended up winning by a fairly comfortable 10%. That seemed to replicate a pattern seen across the world on big constitutional votes like this: Undecided and wavering voters overwhelmingly tend to go for the status quo, or the least risky option.

So, the argument goes, Leave needs to be well ahead at this stage in order to have any chance of winning, unless they can convince voters that staying in the EU is riskier than leaving; that’s not going to be an easy sell when most of the nation’s political parties and representatives of big business are mostly saying the opposite.

If you buy this explanation, you might be tempted to go for an easy Remain win on the vote share markets; 60-65% has proved popular and is now only 5/1.

If not, 15/8 about any win for Leave must be a big price for a vote which essentially looks tied right now.

Click here for the latest EU Referendum odds.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matthew Shaddick

Matthew Shaddick has been Head of Poliical Betting at Ladbrokes since 2008. He's a writer and odds-maker with particular expertise in UK and US elections. Also known to dabble in music, literary and other out of the way betting markets. Sometimes issues tips on horse racing and football, which are best ignored.