It’s fair to say that the UK population has a fun, healthy attitude to gambling and betting. Indeed, if you walk into a high street bookmakers with a wild and wacky betting proposition, it will nevertheless be taken seriously and they’ll try to accommodate you. Of course, it’s possible to find ‘fun’ or ostensibly outrageous bets around the globe nowadays, but there’s nowhere like the UK for such wagers.
“Man is a gaming animal. He must be always trying to get the better in something or other” – Charles Lamb. And so the ‘us against them’ theme runs through the punters versus bookies gambling challenge where, in the main, the latter tends to come out on top in the long/run. But the bookies don’t always get it right. A famous example was the fairytale story that saw Leicester City win the Premier League in 2016. The prospect of the minnows managing to outperform the might of arguably the world’s strongest football league was so unlikely that the bookies essentially broke their own golden rule – namely that anything can happen. Indeed they were so confident of any bet on Leicester becoming champions being ‘free’ money that they continued to offer amazingly generous odds. And by generous, read 5,000/1… To put into perspective what in retrospect was the foolhardy, extreme overconfidence of UK bookmakers, here is a selection of similarly incredibly unlikely bets you could have made at the time, but which – remarkably – offered shorter odds:
Simon Cowell To Become Next Prime Minister – 500/1
Hugh Hefner To Admit To Being A Virgin – 1,000/1
The Queen To Have The Christmas Number One – 1,000/1
Elvis To Be Found Alive And Well – 2,000/1
Yes, you read correctly – bookmakers were far less generous with their odds on the prospect of Simon Cowell becoming Prime Minister or even Elvis popping up out of the blue live and kicking than Leicester becoming Premier League champions!
Fast-forward to the present day, and the incumbent Prime Minister is the subject of interesting betting opportunities. Having forked out a £50 fixed penalty notice for attending an impromptu birthday party at 10 Downing Street, the charismatic PM continues to be dogged by so-called Partygate. It’s proving to be the gift that keeps on giving for Opposition parties, although, thanks to Labour recently admitting (after previous denials) that Deputy Leader Angela Rayner was indeed with her party leader, Keir Starmer on the night of the infamous beer photo, Johnson might be slightly relieved that he’s not attracting all the negative attention regarding politicians’ embarrassing flouting of the UK’s COVID laws.
With even Conservative MPs daring to say that Johnson’s days are numbered, it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s been considerable interest in betting on his departure from Downing Street, with 11/8 being the best odds currently available for this to happen in 2022.
Matt Shaddick, Head of Politics at the betting exchange, Smarkets, said “Whilst the pressure on Boris Johnson is undoubtedly increasing, political punters remain somewhat sceptical that this will lead to him being evicted from Number 10 this year.”
He may well enjoy another Christmas at No.10 in 2022, but whether or not Johnson will still be leading the Conservatives at the next General Election is another fascinating betting prospect. For Johnson NOT to be leader the odds are as short as 4/7, while you can get 7/5 for the ‘marmite’ PM being given a chance to continue as PM. Perhaps not surprisingly, the latter is proving to be the most popular bet…