If you want to wager, then you might think that all there is to wager upon are sporting contests. However, most online sports books will also allow you to wager upon other events, including the winners of reality TV shows, movie awards like The Oscars or The Baftas, and other 'markets' such as the gender of the next royal baby.
Over the past decade or so online sports books have begun to notice that their punters want to wager on more than just football, horse racing and golf. They also want to bet on who's going to win the latest series of Britain's Got Talent, which flick is most likely to pick up the academy award for best picture, and who is likely to become the next leader of the country.
In the olden days politicians were universally treated with respect and admiration at all times. In the modern era 'respect' and 'politicians' are two words that seldom seem to belong together! The line between politics and showbiz is so blurred these days that it's barely distinguishable, and politicians seem to be judged as much for their personalities as for their policies.
Recent years have seen a huge number of decade-defining political events, and political punters have (probably) both lost and won thousands on unexpected political outcomes. Here's a quick look at four recent political events that haven't gone as the bookies quite expected.
There was one thing that all political commentators seemed to agree upon coming up to the 2015 General Election in the UK – that the result was simply too close to call, and a hung parliament with no overall majority was a certainty. At one stage the odds on a hung parliament were as tight as 1/16 (1.06).
However, the UK woke up on May 8 to find that David Cameron was still the Prime Minister. Both Labour and the LibDems had suffered huge losses, with Labour being wiped out by the SNP in Scotland, and the Tories taking thirty-seven percent of the vote. It seemed David Cameron would remain as PM until 2020 … or would he?
As part of the Conservatives' 2015 Election manifesto David Cameron had promised a straight in/out vote on the UK's place in the European Union. That vote duly took place on 23 June, and most bookmakers were inclined to agree that the UK would make the choice of remaining as part of the European Union. At one stage 'Brexit' was offered by Ladbrokes at 5/1 (6.00).
By five o'clock the following morning the result had become clear – nearly fifty-two percent of voters had decided they wanted out of Europe, as opposed to the forty-eight percent who wanted to remain. It looked like the bookies had gotten it wrong again.
The rest of the world sat back and sniggered at businessman Donald Trump's efforts to become the 45th President of the US for most of 2015 and 2016. Leading sports books were offering odds as wild as 150/1 (151.00) that the orange-faced, oddly-coiffured one would end up seated in the oval office come the end of 2016.
Despite mocking a disabled reporter, making disparaging comments about woman, refusing to release his tax returns and one thousand and one other scandals, it was a 'Trump Triumph' when the dust settled. Thankfully, this turned out not be a decision that the American people were left to rue … ahem ...
When Theresa May, the then Prime Minister, called for a general election in early 2017 it seemed she was on course for a resounding, thumping victory. How could she not flatten the opposition with the right-wing media and half of the Labour Party despising their scruffy long-serving back-bencher leader Jeremy Corbyn?
Unfortunately for May, Corbyn learned how to tie a tie and came across as a politician with a backbone and faith in his opinions, while May simply parroted 'strong and stable leadership' in answer to every question, while looking like a member of the WI suddenly thrust in front of the camera. The Conservatives still won the election but with no overall majority, and May had to cuddle up with the Democratic Unionist Party in order to retain the leadership of the UK.
As you can see from the four examples listed above, getting it right when it comes to politics is very difficult, and the bookies seem just as capable as getting the leading political events wrong as they are at getting them right! Both 'remain' in the EU referendum and Hilary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential elections were at one time seen as absolute shoo-ins, so any wily punter who went for the opposite result landed themselves a tasty wagering bonus!
All the major online sports books will offer the odd political betting market, but for superior deals we'd say that Paddy Power are your best bet. This Ireland-based sports book loves the quirkier side of sports betting, and so is likely to offer more political betting options than most. Just make sure you check Paddy Power's site for the latest political betting options and any special deals they have for both new and regular sports bettors at the site.
Still unsure which bookies to opt for? See our review of the best betting sites and get more information on the UK's most highly rated bookmakers.