Why Has Betting On Elections Become So Popular?

Back in 2020, a single US betting event saw $500 million in wagers worldwide.

Rarely had an event been fraught with so much excitement, tension, speculation and fervent support from both sides of the race. People showed their colours with banners, posters, rallies and parades. They flew their team flags (literally and metaphorically) passionately as the event loomed.

No, it wasn’t the Superbowl. It was the 2020 US Presidential Election.

One of the most highly anticipated political events in living memory, the 2020 US Presidential Election, went beyond politics to nothing short of a global spectacle.

Is it any wonder that more Aussies bet on the 2020 US Presidential race than any previous election?

The US election highlighted Australia’s love of betting on politics, but when did betting on elections become so popular, and why?

A short history of betting on elections in Australia

Betting on elections is nothing new in Australia. Since early British colonisation, it’s been part and parcel of the Aussie election process and remains so to this day. In fact, in 2018, one Aussie punter was so keen on political betting he made a colossal $1 million bet on Labor to win the federal election (unlucky, mate!).

act parliament building

Source: Unsplash

Political betting came to Australia via Britain, where it’s been popular since the 1700s. 18th Century Brits would place bets on everything from the outcome of elections, to the length of political careers, and which bills would pass through parliament — almost any excuse to bet on politics would do.

This political betting culture transferred to Australia and other British colonies, making political gambling, including betting on the federal election, a part of Australia’s fabric from the very beginning.

Since 2016, interest in American politics and betting on American elections has sharply increased. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s extraordinary rise to the top of American politics is a major factor in this fascination.

How election betting has changed in Australia

Australians have always had a punt on politics, but interest in political betting, particularly betting on overseas elections, has increased in recent years.

Since Donald Trump’s shock victory in the 2016 US election, Australian interest in American politics has skyrocketed, culminating in the 2020 US election seeing unprecedented levels of interest from Aussie punters.

2020 was a weird year for many reasons. Our sudden isolation and lack of social betting opportunities saw more Australians than ever betting online. In fact, around 1 in 3 people surveyed by the Australian government signed up for a new online betting account during Covid-19.

Restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic created something of a vacuum in betting opportunities — with sporting events cancelled domestically and overseas and casinos and other betting operators shut, punters had to turn to new betting avenues.

Enter US politics.

election voting stickers

Source: Unsplash

Amid civil unrest and a global pandemic, the most anticipated election in living memory loomed — Trump VS Biden. With high stakes for the future of America, and the world, interest in the 2020 US presidential election was huge, with more American citizens voting than in any previous election despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

election betting

The sheer enormity of this compelling and show-biz like event in the dying months of 2020 led thousands of Australian punters to place their bets on who would be the next US president. Incredibly, Australians bet more on the 2020 US Presidential election than they did on the 2020 AFL and NRL grand final.

With history on Trump’s side (prior to 2020 only 9 incumbent presidents had not been re-elected) in combination with his shock 2016 election victory, Australians bet on Trump to win in their droves.

With inflammatory tweets like the one below from the incumbent president, the highest voter turnouts in American history, and an unprecedented wait of several days for the election results to be announced, punters waited with bated breath to find out if they’d had a win.

donald trump tweet

Would it be four more years of Trump running the most powerful country in the world, or would a new administration take over?

new york times trump

Source: Unsplash

The future of election betting in Australia

Aussies love a political punt. From homegrown state and federal elections to overseas politics, betting on elections really is a betting staple in Australia.

With more people turning to political betting thanks to the US election and major events like Brexit, betting on the federal election and other Australian political events is likely to increase.

And who knows, with Trump vowing to run for president again in 2024, we may see another surge in US political betting in a few years. One thing is for sure, Aussies love a bet and our long history of betting on federal elections seems likely to continue.

Got a feeling about an upcoming election? Check out our political betting opportunities.

Want to be part of the action? Join the team at TopSport for local and international political betting opportunities.