Trump Guilty Verdict Causes Heavy Election Betting Volume, Ultimately Not Much Odds Movement

Eric Raskin

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At 5:07 p.m. New York time on Thursday, the reports began to hit the airwaves, count by count: Former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 charges in a scheme to cover up an affair with an adult film actress to illegally influence the 2016 election.

Immediately, election bettors swung into action.

The trading volume Thursday at PredictIt, a site that continues to allow U.S. customers to buy and sell shares of political outcomes while its legality remains hazy, reached some 10 times what it is on an average day, as first bettors moved markets with anti-Trump positions, then the markets swung back as Trump backers saw value.

By Friday morning, the odds board didn’t look much different from before the verdict, with Trump again a small favorite over President Joe Biden, their respective parties running almost neck and neck in a separate market that takes individual candidates out of the equation, and Trump’s odds of securing the Republican nomination hardly changed.

Biden bumps, Trump rebounds

Entering Thursday, Trump was priced at 51 cents to win the presidency (equivalent in U.S. sports betting odds to a -104 favorite) and Biden was at 45 cents (a +122 underdog). Five minutes after the verdict came in, they were dead even at 48 cents apiece.

By Friday morning, Trump was back up to 51 cents and Biden sat at 48 cents.

But the volume of trading was remarkable. Thursday saw 123,000 shares traded in this market, compared to 26,000 the day before, 27,000 the day before that, and under 7,000 on Sunday.

The party line

The story was similar on the question of “Which party will win the 2024 U.S. presidential election?” (This is a market that has consistently looked a few cents better for the Democrat party than Biden’s individual odds because some observers continue to believe the current president will be replaced atop the ticket.)

The Republican party led by 1 cent most of the week, and after the guilty verdict it settled for the night at a 1-cent lead for the Democrats.

But the story was the betting volume, with nearly 31,000 shares moving Thursday, more than 10 times greater than the 3,000 on Sunday, 2,800 on Monday, or 2,600 on Tuesday.

Dump Trump?

There was an even bigger spike in trading volume in the market for who will be the Republican nominee. A market that saw 2,000 shares traded last Saturday, 3,700 Sunday, and 5,100 Monday invited more than 75,000 on the day the jury handed down its verdict.

But whatever run of support Nikki Haley enjoyed amid concern that a convicted criminal could be bounced from the GOP ticket proved temporary. As of Friday morning, Trump was holding steady at 89 cents, with Haley at 6 cents and nobody else above 3 cents.

Overseas odds movement and action was similar overall, with Betfair, a licensed operator in Europe, reporting heavy volume, an immediate run on Biden bets, and then Trump-heavy betting pulling the numbers back closer to where they were before the verdict.

Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11, four days before the start of the Republican National Convention. Though most insiders agree chances are extremely slim that he will be jailed before the election, if a jail sentence is delivered that day, one assumes heavy betting action will again follow.