Scotland | 18th September 2014

Where should you put your money ahead of tonight’s result?

Voting is well underway in the Scottish referendum but there is plenty of time […]

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Voting is well underway in the Scottish referendum but there is plenty of time to place a bet on tonight’s results.

We recently took a look at some of the characters who make their living from political betting. There are not the only ones speculating on the future of the union: the referendum is set to be the biggest political betting event in the UK’s history, with more than £40 million at stake.

What are the best bets still out there? We have used William Hill’s slate, but Ladbrokes, Coral, PaddyPower and BetFair are among those offering similar numbers.

The result

The polls only suggest a slender No lead, but the bookies are clear who will win tonight. They are offering odds of 7/2 on a Yes vote and 1/5 on a No. That means for every £1 bet on independence you would win £3.50, against only 20 pence if the union remains intact.

Given the polls suggest the race is far closer than this, a bet on separation may make sense. A Yes vote is now widely unexpected, but the winnings on a No vote are a pittance.

Verdict: Back Yes at 7/2 and cover yourself from a shock.

Turnout

Only 64 and 51 per cent of Scotland’s eligible voters made it to the polls in the 2010 Westminster and 2011 Holyrood elections. With 97 per cent of voters registered to vote, turnout is expected to be closer to 80-90 per cent today.

There is little money to be made betting on something in that range, but an optimist in civic spirit might look to the 6/1 odds being offered on a 90-95 per cent turnout. A pessimist could look to 9/1 to be made if engagement slips to 70-75 per cent, but Blair McDougall, campaign director of the No campaign, has claimed turnout is ‘very high’. Unconfirmed reports aside, anything as low as 75 per cent would be a shock.

Verdict: Have faith and back a 90 per cent turnout at 6/1.

Timing

One bet seems to offer guaranteed money to the budding punter. “When will defeat be publicly conceded by Alex Salmond or Alistair Darling?” William Hill are offering 10/3 on sometime before 3am, 6/5 on 3-5am, and 11/8 on after 5.

Given that results are not expected in Glasgow and Edinburgh – which together make up a fifth of the electorate – until 5am, Aberdeen is not not due until 6, and Elections Scotland are predicting an announcement from Edinburgh between 6.30 and 7.30am, there seems to be easy money available. The one catch, that Salmond or Darling have to concede before 11pm on Friday, scarcely explains this pricing.

Verdict: Beware of a trap, but a subtle bet on a post-5am concession seems to offer great returns at 11/8.

Currency

A recent ICM/Guardian poll found voters in the rest of the UK don’t think the pound should be shared if Scotland secedes. But the bookies are confident Alex Salmond would win any battle over Scotland’s right to use it. They are only offering 1/2 (£1 wins you 50 pence) on Scotland using sterling “two years after independence”.

But every member of what would be the rUK negotiation team, from David Cameron to Mark Carney, the Bank of England Governor, have dismissed the idea. In that event Scotland would either have to join the euro or create their own coinage. The pitfalls of sharing a currency with 18 other countries makes the latter the best bet, even if you’ll have to wait a few years to cash it.

Verdict: Back Scotland to go it alone at 5/1.

And finally… the flag

Some might say too little attention has been paid to the fate of the Union Jack in the event of indepedence. William Hill have, however, thought hard, and are offering odds on its future colours. The money is on just red and white, with the current blue being gifted to the Scottish.

I wouldn’t be convinced the rest of the UK will surrender so easily. Some new justification for keeping St Andrew’s colour could well galvinise its rejected patriots.

Verdict: The post-independence Union Jack to stay red, white and blue at 11/4.

Where will you place your bets? The polls close at 10pm.

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More referendum coverage:

“Should Scotland be an independent country?” Referendum voting is under way

Scotland: What do the final polls suggest?

How will women, men, the young and old vote today?