A bookie's eye of the polling race!

Adrian Eastwood told Slugger this morning that his company has taken 10s of thousands of pounds backing Northern Ireland’s political parties. The big money is following three DUP candidates: David Simpson (Upper Bann); Willie McCrea (South Antrim); and Jimmy Spratt (South Belfast). These are often joined in accumulator bets with lower priced Sammy Wilson and Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein. So, to an extent, betting is an apolitical activity.

Aside from a single punt of £2500 for the UUP (to take more than three seats), there’s no substantial money backing David Trimble’s party. And in Strabane a Derry punter put £5000 on Mark Durkan to bring his price down to 11/10 is the biggest sign of anyone backing the SDLP.

There’s no way of knowing if the money comes from within the party – but suspicion must be strong. Brian Feeney confessed at Slugger Live! the other night to once having bropught down his odds to 8/1, just by walking into a small bookie’s shop and flashing the money at the window!

Adrian Eastwood is a little coy about the idea that bookies know better than polls or punters. “I get a bit of advice here and there, and of course you have a few ideas of your own”. In Foyle he thinks it’s almost too close to call: “it was a take your pick year, but I’ve gone with Sinn Fein partly because they are so good at getting their people out”.

But, unusually for Sinn Fein supporters, they are not backing their party down at the bookies this year. Adrian thinks there could be several reasons. “Maybe it’s because they’ve recognised the controversy over the last few months, and are just keeping things quiet. Or maybe they are just too busy out on the doorsteps, concentrating on getting their people out”. And of course, with all Sinn Fein MPs expected to be returned, and Conor Murphy clear favourite in Newry and Armagh, there’s just no margin in it for them.

Eastwoods probably had their best PR year (and worst in terms of payouts) in 1983, the year Gerry Adams won West Belfast for the first time. Adrian: “All the people in the black taxis were coming in and putting money on him. We took tens of thousands just on that one bet. There was so much money that the whole of west Belfast must have backed him”.

In his victory speech at City Hall acknowledged that support: “On behalf of all the people of West Belfast, thank you Mr Eastwood”.

Will the DUP punters have cause to be so grateful this time out? Or will the man with the £2500, be that much better off? We’ll only know when the count is complete this day next week.

  • la redoute

    eastwoods 6 to 1 for mcgimsey thats good odds ive £20 on that.

  • Karl Rove

    Good God, still 6/1 against the Gimp? I knew his circle of, erm, ‘friends’ were a pretty classless lot, but a fair few of them saw the insides of bookies in their youth. So one did rather imagine some of his, erm, ‘mates’ would have wasted a few quid on him, just to get the Eastwoods numbers tallying with Bloater’s poll that fell off the back of an NIO lorry (‘honest, it did, Steven told me so!’). But clearly not. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

  • la redoute

    Karl,the reason why spratts odds are so low is because more and more people are putting money on him its not because eastwoods have any detailed knowledge of south belfast

  • DerryTerry

    I’n not a gambler myself so i was wondering if one of you punters out there could help me. I’ve been told by people here that bookies who are quoting as offering odds on the elections have stopped taking bets on Mitchel McLaughlin, but are still suggesting its too close to call. Could that be right?

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com
  • Keith M

    DerryTerry, you’ll be able to back McLaughlin anywhere. Bizaaarly both him and Durkan are both odds on!

  • J Kelly

    Maybe the reason that the SF money is not bet with Eastwoods is because Graham’s gave a better price and have an office in Derry. Apparently they have closed the book on Mitchel.

  • Karl Rove

    Um, La Redoute, now probably isn’t the time to go into the finer details of markey theory and “spontaneous, collective intelligence” etc etc, but . . . the whole point is that money is being punted on Spratt, not on the Gimp.

    The fact that heaps of people, freely and in light of what their own judgement tells them, have plumped (with cold cash) for the conclusion that the Gimp’s toast constitutes a highly effective predictive mechanism. As, indeed, does political betting the free world over.

    Other than spread betting in the City on general elections (where merchant bankers allow their Tory patriotism to just this once get the better of their judgement ie they follow their hearts with this one punt), and thus the spread for the last two elections has under-estimated the Labour majority slightly.

  • David Cather

    Karl that would be a logical explanation as to why the bookies called the 1992 general election right whereas the opinion polls and everyone else got it wrong. The brokers let their hearts rule their heads and got lucky on a fluke.

  • Karl Rove

    Oddly enough, I’d say the exact opposite of the ’92 result: the market knew best! Cold, hard money got it right, the pundits and pollsters and all the other political ‘professionals’ looked like morons. God bless Mrs Thatcher.

  • Justice

    It’s clear the UUP contributors who told us we should believe the crap from McGimpsey about his poll showing him well ahead of Spratt don’t believe him or they would be knocking Eastwood’s doors down to lay their money on at 6/1.

  • Keith M

    Just a quick update based on the odds on offer on seangraham and eastwoodbookmakers. Longest price I can get is quoted. I consider anything on offer at 1/5 on of less as a dead cert.

    In the bag for the DUP (7 seats):
    East Belfast (No offer on Robinson,Empey at 10/1)
    North Belfast (No offer on Dodds, Kelly at 14/1)
    East Antrim (Wilson at 1/10, Beggs at 4/1)
    East Londonderry (Campbell 1/100, McClarty at 14/1)
    Lagan Valley : (No offer on Donalson, McCrea at 16/1)
    Strangford : (No offer on Robinson, McGimpsey at 25/1)
    North Antrim : (No offer on Paisley, McCune 33/1)

    In the bag for SF/IRA (5 seats)
    West Belfast (No offer on Adams, 25/1 on Attwood)
    Mid-Ulster (No offer on McGuinness, 66/1 on McCrea)
    Fermanagh/South Tyrone (1/33 pn Gildernew, 12/1 Foster, 25/1 Elliot)
    West Tyrone : (No offer on Doherty, 8/1 Deeney)
    Newry & Armagh (1/33 Murphy, 12/1 Bradley)

    In the bag for the SDLP (1 seat)
    South Down (1/8 McGrady, 7/2 Ruane)

    This leaves 5 seats up for grabs, in increasing order of openess :
    UUP look to have North Down (1/4 on Hermon, 5/2 on Weir)
    DUP look to have Upper Bann (1/3 Simpson, 2/1 Trimble)
    DUP look to have South Antrim (2/5, 7/4 on Burnside)
    DUP shading South Belfast (4/9 Spratt, 9/4 McDonnell, 7/2 McGimpsey)
    SF/IRA shading Foyle (4/7 McLaughlin, 6/5 Durkan)

    If the seats go to the favourites thefinal shake out will be :
    DUP : 10 (up from 5 in 2001)
    SF/IRA : 6 (up from 4 in 2001)
    SDLP : 1 (down from 3 in 2001)
    UUP : 1 (down from 6 in 2001)

    Will the last person left in Cunningham House, please turn off the lights!