Brexit breaks betting record for non-sport event, says Paddy Power

Nearly £150 wagered on referendum outcome in UK – two-thirds of it on Remain

A man places a bet at a William Hill  shop in London. The majority of votes on the Leave side were placed by small-time punters, who averaged £70 each. Photograph: Andrew Testa/The New York Times

A man places a bet at a William Hill shop in London. The majority of votes on the Leave side were placed by small-time punters, who averaged £70 each. Photograph: Andrew Testa/The New York Times

 

Nearly £150 million (€184 million) was wagered on the outcome of the Brexit referendum – making it the biggest-ever punt on a non-sporting event in the UK, according to Paddy Power.

More than two-thirds of the money – £108 million – went to Remain betting in a “relentless” display of confidence that UK voters would opt to stay inside the European Union – but mostly by people working in financial services.

The majority of votes on the Leave side were placed by small-time punters, who averaged £70 each, though a flurry of £5 and £10 bets as polls closed at 10pm on Thursday evening saw the 6/1 odds on Leave tumble sharply.

Stung by the result, bookmakers immediately cut the odds on the prospect that Scots will vote to quit the UK in a second independence referendum, while the odds on a united Ireland referendum occurring before 2020 were lowered from 8/1 to 3/1. However, the odds that unification could happen remain high.

The founder of PoliticalBetting.com, Mike Smithson, said bookmakers will not have lost: “They will have balanced their books to ensure they would’ve won whatever the outcome.”

However, one company admitted to losses. Political spread betting company Sporting Index said it suffered a six-figure loss because its punters consistently favoured Leave throughout the campaign.

Ed Fulton, political spokesman for Sporting Index, said: “We were getting ready to pop the champagne corks at 10pm when a Remain win looked highly likely, but by midnight the bottles were shoved back in the fridge.

“When we got to 4am it was head in hands time on the trading floor and the punters have beaten us fair and square here. On the bright side, the volume of bets for the referendum was fantastic,” he said.