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Big winners already in presidential election? Bookies

The presidential election is proving a boon for bookmakers, with estimates that more than $1 billion has already been bet on the winner around the world even before Election Day.

Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting at British sports betting and gambling firm GVC, said that's double the amount from 2016, when Donald Trump upset the odds and polls in his race against Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Trump is once again the outsider, with his Democratic challenger Joe Biden the favorite with GVC's gaming brands, which include Labrokes, Coral and BWin.

Its rival, William Hill, also has former vice-president Biden favored to win.

"This is a huge market," Shaddick told AFP. "It is twice as big as 2016, easily making it the biggest political event ever. It might be the biggest ever market on anything pretty much and outstrip football (soccer) worldwide."

William Hill said they also expect the election to be easily its biggest event of the year, given the cancellation of money-spinners such as the Grand National due to COVID-19.

Hill's international spokesman, Rupert Adams said, "We predict that this will be the biggest wagering event of 2020. The figures are simply astounding and include all sporting events."

For Adams, the huge amounts laid on Tuesday's vote are largely down to the love-him-or-loathe-him personality of Mr. Trump.

"There is no doubt the fact he is such a colorful character makes it appealing for people who would otherwise be uninterested," he added.

"If it was Jeb Bush versus Biden, we would be taking a third of the turnover."

Biden may be favored but Shaddick said 70 percent of bets placed this week have been for Mr. Trump, calling the level of confidence in him winning "astonishing".

"A whole new universe of bettors won last time. These are people who go for their gut feelings and instincts," he said.

"Biden is a clear bookies' favorite, still, with about a 65 percent chance to win but it is way out of line with polling forecasting that would give Trump a 10 percent chance.

"The betting markets give Trump a 35-45 percent chance. Betting markets take a different view. It is a much more pro-Trump market."

Shaddick, though, said it is a misnomer that polls putting Clinton over Mr. Trump were way off in 2016.

"The polls were not far off and Trump needs much bigger polling to win this time round. The bettors do not seem to care," he said. "They believe there are millions of shy Trump voters."

Shaddick believes bookies generally overrate the chances of populist candidates globally, which drives betting that Mr. Trump and his like will fare more favorably at the ballot box.

Much of the money placed on the real estate tycoon turned politician comes from people who seek their information from sources other than the media or political experts, he said.  

"The truth is there is a very large section of people round the world who prefer to rely on a social media bubble," he added.

"Clearly, they do not care about the polls. Some think they are fake or the polls miss out millions of Trump supporters. It is incredible the confidence they have on that side of Trump winning.

"On the other side, the liberal left are still traumatized by him winning and they do not want to risk their money.

"Those are two different psychological factors so I would prefer to trust the polls than the betting markets."

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