Mon, Sep 2, 10:59am by Kevin Pitstock
Sportsbet, one of the leading Australian bookmakers, has begun paying out pro-Coalition bets on the outcome of the September 7 election. With 9 days to go, the odds of Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party appear so slim that a bookmaker is already conceding defeat on Aussie election proposition wagers.
At present, the online bookmaker has about AUD $1.5 million in bets to pay off for those who wagered on the Liberal-National political alliance to win control of the Australian Parliament. Though they say a week is an eternity in politics, it appears the centre-right coalition is in the final sprint towards power.
Referring to the prime minister’s residence in Sydney, Sportsbet spokesman Haydn Lane said, “As far as Sportsbet’s betting markets are concerned, the Abbotts can start packing up their belongings ahead of their imminent move to Kirribilli House.”
The latest opinion polls have Opposition getting 53% of the vote to Labor’s 47%. If such numbers are true, it could signal a significant shift to the right in Australian politics.
According to Sportsbet‘s calculations, the conservatives (who now hold 72 seats) are ahead in about 90 seats while Labor leads in only 56. Haydn Lane, speaking on behalf of Sportsbet, has 2 seats going to independents, while 2 more are too close to call.
Whether an online bookmaker has the necessary skill set to call political elections more than a week in advance is uncertain. Exactly who Sportsbet’s political analysts are, Haydn Lane didn’t say. Still, Sportsbet oddmakers have to set the lines, so they must be familiar with the subjects in question, even when it involves politics and pop culture.
For a bookmaker to pay off wagers early is an indication of the almost certain political reality now facing Australia. A certain amount of self-promotion is involved in such a decision, because the company knows it will get free press due to the public desire for more election coverage.
Bookmakers get it wrong, too. A famous UK sportsbook paid bets off early in 2012 and ended up being wrong. Still, no business is going to pay a $1.5 million debt unless it’s quite certain of the results of the proposition. Thus, you can say that Sportsbet has already declared the election for Tony Abbott.
Kevin Rudd’s return to the role of Prime Minister was hoped to provide a boost for the Labor Party, but the comeback has fizzled so far. It might have been too much to ask for Mr Rudd to save the government, with the weakening of the Australian dollar and an unenviable unemployment rate. Perhaps no amount of electioneering skill would have turned back the challenge from Opposition this year.
What the consequences of a Coalition’s victory will be for the gambling industry of Australia is uncertain. It appears that Tony Abbott’s new government is set to take off the reins on the land-based gambling industry, eliminating the gambling regulator and replacing it with an industry-led advisory council. The online gambling industry could face tougher times, as the new economy of online business doesn’t have the same favour with conservatives that the local business community of Australia receives.
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