He may be tumbling in the polls and one bookmaker may have already paid out on Hillary Clinton becoming the 45th president of the United States, but many betting firms have cut the odds on a Donald Trump presidency following a rush of bets on the Republican candidate.
With a swath of scandals having rocked Trump’s campaign, latest polls show Clinton with a lead of up to 9 percentage points ahead of Wednesday night’s third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas. So confident is Irish bookmaker Paddy Power that Clinton now has the presidency in the bag that it paid out on that outcome earlier this week. Statistical Analysis website FiveThirtyEight suggests it was a safe move, putting Clinton’s chances of succeeding President Barack Obama at 87 percent, while the New York Time’s data-driven predictor The Upshot goes even higher on Clinton, at 92 percent.
However, bookmakers generally put Trump’s chances significantly higher. Indeed, those who are in Las Vegas to watch the debate will be able to place a bet on Trump at odds of +350 (7/2), which equates to a 22 percent chance of winning.
“FiveThirtyEight538, the Upshot, etc. don’t have a financial liability attached to Trump winning like we do,” Pat Morrow, head oddsmaker at online gambling site Bovada.lv told International Business Times. “While we may have shared similar sentiments as those gentlemen, it provides a much bigger loss to us than it does them. For Nate [Silver, editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight] et al, it’s academic. For us, we have to explain all the red dripping from our balance sheet if Trump somehow pulls off the upset.”
In fact, as Trump’s campaign has appeared to be flailing – amid the leaking of audio in which he bragged about committing sexual assault – his odds have actually come in from +425 (17/4). Some of that may be down to Trump’s odds offering a far bigger reward than those of Clinton. But Morrow believes it is also a sign that WikiLeaks’ release of emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta along with a transcript of speeches Clinton gave to Goldman Sachs.
“WikiLeaks is slightly more recent, and daily, whereas, and it’s weird in this cycle, the release of Trump’s ‘locker-room talk’ audio is already old news.”
Trump has not only drawn the majority of bets placed in recent days, but also the most money. Since opening up the betting on the head-to-head contest, a Trump victory has taken in 60 percent of the money at Bovada. And, while an upset Trump victory could be costly for sites like Bovada, which took a bet in excess of $1,000 when a Trump presidency had odds of 150/1 over a year ago, this unusual election has meant big business for gambling sites.
"It’s easily the largest election ever here,” Morrow said. "We’ve never had a candidate like Trump that not only came out of nowhere and has dominated the news cycle the way that he has.
"Obama being an incumbent and [Mitt] Romney being the traditional ‘the-party-decides’ candidate didn’t provide too many underdog opportunities for bettors in the  primaries. And in terms of media engagement, well, if Romney is a warm glass of milk, Trump is a double-shot of Fireball Whisky."