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European election 2014: Bookies bemoan 'weak market' as punters steer clear of candidates

By Liam Clarke

The European election is a beaten docket as far as the gambling industry is concerned, according to Northern Ireland's most experienced political bookmaker.

With only a day to go, less than £5,000 has been bet on the European result at the A McClean chain where Adrian Eastwood is a consultant.

That compares to about £100,000 in the last Assembly elections.

Mr Eastwood said he has never known an election with so little money riding on it.

"It is a bit quiet, what you'd call a weak market, not like the old days," he shrugged.

And not a penny has changed hands on the three outsiders from the Conservatives, NI21 and the Greens, who are all at 66/1.

"It may as well be 200/1," said the bookie. "Nobody is betting on them."

Mr Eastwood reckons the three sitting candidates will probably get returned but he has been shortening the odds on one of the seats, which has been held by Jim Nicholson of the UUP since 1989.

Martina Anderson of Sinn Fein is 1/100 on, meaning you would have to bet £100 on her to win £1 back. Diane Dodds of the DUP is an also a sure thing at 1/20, but Mr Eastwood said he sensed misplaced complacency when he watches the third incumbent, Jim Nicholson, on TV.

"Maybe he thinks he doesn't have to try too hard but nothing is for sure," Mr Eastwood said, although he still puts Mr Nicholson odds-on at 1/3.

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