As regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of betting exchanges. Since they aren’t setting odds or taking risks from mis-pricings, they can easily offer a wider range of markets than their fixed odds brethren.
There are two main exchanges currently, Betfair (by far the largest) and Smarkets (by far the best, but with mixed liquidity). However, there is a third exchange with good liquidity, many markets, and some appalling mis-pricings ripe for us to exploit. Sadly, we cannot bet on it.
PredictIt is a ‘futures market’ specialising in US politics but with a range of global options. You can buy or sell ‘shares’ in the outcome of elections, whether laws will be passed by certain dates, the contents of those laws, Supreme Court decisions, and more. Their global markets put any UK bookie to shame, with current markets covering (among others) South Korea, the Philippines, and the Next African Leader to leave office.
Unfortunately, it is restricted to American citizens (and ‘Resident Aliens’ living in the states). This is because running a political futures market is illegal in America, and PredictIt operates under special permission from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. This imposes various restrictions on the site, including the amount people can stake ($850 per market) and other conditions.
Despite this, and rather extortionate commissions/fees, PredictIt remains a place with great untapped potential – and I have spent years looking enviously across at our American cousins able to trade on it. I don’t know if the CFTC would consider widening the scope of PredictIt’s operations, but I have emailed PredictIt to ask if they are trying to obtain further permissions.
My hopes aren’t high, but it is Christmas. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Hollywood films, it is that Americans know better than anyone this is a time of miracles. So if Santa’s red coat is actually a reference to Ladbrokes rather than Coca Cola, he knows what would make the best present of all to UK punters…
Pip Moss posts on Political Betting as Quincel. If anyone knows of a legal way to trade on PredictIt he’d love to hear it. He knows that Santa Claus wearing red predates the Coca Cola adverts by several decades. You can follow him on Twitter at @PipsFunFacts