LONDON—After the last UK general election, the country’s pollsters were in foul odor for almost uniformly failing to predict the result. This week it is the UK’s bookmakers who appear to have miscalculated: Every major bookmaker in the country set their odds predicting the public would vote to ‘Remain’ a member of the European Union. In fact, the country voted 52-48 to ‘Leave’, causing chaos across the international markets, and no doubt costing these gambling companies a fair amount in payouts.
Of course, there are caveats: odds are set on the basis of the amount of cash gamblers put down, the marketing value to the bookmaker, and numerous other factors. An interesting summary of some of these machinations could be found in the Independent yesterday, which noted that although “the polls have varied wildly, one group of people have been steadfastly consistent over the outcome of the EU referendum: the bookies. They have made the Remain camp the odds-on favourite since February when David Cameron set the 23 June date for the vote.”
Nuances aside, it is somewhat embarrassing for every single bookmaker to predict the wrong result in the biggest yes/no poll the country had ever faced.
Dan Barker is a London-based consultant working in the areas of e-commerce, digital marketing, analytics, ux, research, and various related areas.