High Stakes: British Bookmakers Assess Russian Elections

In the UK, they know better who you should put money down on within the Russian presidential election

Over the past month, several new candidates for the presidency emerged. Bookmakers, however, do not see any intrigues in the 2018 elections. The British turf accountants believe that the result is predetermined: the probability of Vladimir Putin’s victory is estimated to be above 90%. Russiangate tells how much one can earn from the election and why it is the UK people that bet.


The first reports on the possibility of placing bets on the 2018 Russian presidential election’s outcome transpired as early as 2014. Bets are accepted in the UK, although some Russian bookmakers offer this opportunity as well. In Russia, bets on the outcome of elections can be placed before the start of the election campaign, which is planned for December 2017: officials believe that bets can indirectly influence the voters’ decisions.

Great Britain is considered the birthplace of bookmakers: this country has one of the most liberal legislations in this field. In Russia, however, many websites of both British and Russian turf accountants are blocked. In 2016, the president of the Self-Regulating Organization of Bookmakers of Russia, Oleg Zhuravsky, said that in the Russian jurisdiction, only four websites operate legally, the rest take bets offline. Therefore, the bets on the Russian elections are placed by citizens of other states.

It is simple: money can be placed on whether an event will occur (the list of bets on the particular event is called a line). For example, the victory of opposition politician Alexei Navalny in the presidential election in 2018. If this does not happen, the player will not get anything. What will he get if Navalny becomes the president? It depends on the rate and the initial amount he placed. The coefficients depend on the bookmakers themselves: they calculate the probability, taking into account the results of the polls, the statistics and the number of players who placed their bets on the given event. The higher the probability of the event, the lower is the coefficient and, accordingly, the profit that the lucky players will receive.


These days the British bookmakers estimate the chances of Vladimir Putin to win very high: for example, Ladbrokes, one of the oldest British bookmakers, estimates his chances at 95%. This bookmaker proposes to bet on the victory of the current president with a coefficient of 1.05. That is, placing $ 100, you get only $ 105 if this candidate wins. The probability of any other candidate to as estimated by Ladbrokes is a little over 11%, and for a bet of $ 100 the winner will receive $ 900.

On the website of another British turf accountant, Coral, the figures are the same. On the Betfect’s website, where players exchange tips and betting options, Putin's odds are estimated at 1.17, and the chances of any other candidate are 5.

On the website of the British bet exchange Betfair, there are more options: you can bet on specific competitors of Putin. Among the candidates is the former adviser to the head of Balashikha, Anatoly Batashev, who announced his intention to run in April 2017. There are also Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia Maxim Suraykin, journalist Sergei Bizyukin and chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Their chances are estimated at a coefficient of 11.4, the probability of winning Alexei Navalny is 13.8.

As early as 2016, Ladbrokes assessed Putin's chances at a coefficient of 1.25, and the victory of any other candidate was at 3.75. At that time, the biggest bet (400 pounds) was made by a Russian client living in London, said Ladbrokes representative Alex Donohue.

Russian director and artist Alexander Kargaltsev, who emigrated from Russia to the United States, watches fluctuations in British bookmakers' odds on Vladimir Putin's victory in the 2018 election as part of his art project called Disassembled. Kargaltsev’s monitoring began in March 2015, when Putin's chances were estimated at only 40%. His rating is updated every month. In September 2017, Kargaltsev wrote about a 100% probability.


The decision to ban election betting during campaigns in Russia was made back in 2004. But the presidential elections of 2008 were still popular among those who wished to put their money down on the candidates. Bets were placed both for Dmitry Medvedev and his main rival, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, Lyudmila Putina, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Boris Nemtsov, LDPR chairman Vladimir Zhirinovsky, communist Gennady Zyuganov and other politicians.

The bookmakers estimated the victory of Sergei Ivanov as a more likely option with a coefficient of 2.2. Dmitry Medvedev’s victory could make one good money: the coefficient of 3.75. However, if Mikhail Khodorkovsky won, one could have made even more: his coefficient was 200.

In the Russian turf accountants one could place bets on the governor of St. Petersburg Valentina Matvienko, head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu, head of the Presidential Administration Sergei Sobyanin.

The representative of the Maltese Unibet, who also accepted bets on the 2008 Russian presidential election, told reporters that such bets, unlike sporting events or American politics, are more likely to be placed for fun than to earn money: the average stake is about $ 20. They bet more often from European countries than from Russia: the most reckless players are from Sweden, Great Britain, Italy and Poland.

As the bookmakers themselves noted, not all elections are interesting for players. For example, among Russians, there are very few of those wishing to bet on the results of elections to the State Duma. At the same time, you get bets on that from abroad: bets on the Duma elections in 2016, were accepted by the UK companies. Bookmakers did not doubt that United Russia will definitely go to the State Duma. The chances of the opposition party PARNAS were assessed least of all.


Before the presidential elections in 2012, the Russian bookmaker Liga Stavok (The Bet League) circumvented the ban on pre-election bets: instead of betting on the outcome of the presidential election, players were offered to bet on who would take the place of the first lady. Now, the website of this company also has several election-related lines: you can bet on Ksenia Sobchak – will she remove her candidacy or change her surname before the election. One can also bet on Anfisa Chekhova – whether she will run for the president. You can also try to guess how many women will be nominated to the candidates.

The Kazakh company Goal + Pass in the summer of 2016 has been accepting bets on whether there will be a terrorist attack in this or that part of the world. In September 2016, it also opened a line for the outcome of the presidential elections in Russia. Putin's victory had a coefficient of 1.1, the victory of any other candidate – 9.0. The probability of Dmitry Medvedev's return to the presidential post was estimated at 9.9, Aleksei Navalny's victory was at 77.0, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's – at 88.0, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky at 111.0. Goal + Pass also offers to bet on the fact that the next president will be a woman with a coefficient of 55.0.

The lines related to the American elections are used more actively: the presidential elections, the possible impeachment of Donald Trump, and even his parting with Melania Trump. For example, only through the Betfair exchange, more than $ 100 million were bet on the outcome of the rivalry between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The rates for the American elections were accepted by Russian offices: in 2014, through Liga Stavok, it was possible to bet on Trump's victory with a coefficient of 100.0. According to Maxim Afanasyev, the trading CEO the bookmaker, the amount of funds placed on the outcome of the American elections exceeded the rates for all other non-sport events, including Eurovision.

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