Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Silly Rules

The big news is that Betfair's US Election markets have finally been settled. The Electoral College (EC) met yesterday, and as soon as California had cast its 55 EC votes and took Biden's total over 270 around 10:15pm, the markets were suspended and settled surprisingly quickly afterwards. I thought it might take a few hours to run the settlement program for a market that had been open for a few years and had almost £1.7 billion traded, but the winnings were in the account and the statement within minutes, although it did take a little longer to show up in the P and L page. 

I was keeping an eye on the six states that Betfair had yet to settle, as I had open bets in those markets, and after seeing that they had all cast their votes as expected, with not a single 'faithless elector' this year, I saw a Tweet misleadingly saying that electors in Nevada had voted for Trump. The account was a right wing site, which a discerning person would soon dismiss out of hand, but incredibly many people not only believe this stuff without question, but were prepared to put their money down.

Only six EC votes were at stake, so there was no danger to Biden's win, but it was potentially serious for Nevada Democrat backers, even though settlement should have been based on the 'projected' EC votes rather than actual. When I looked at the market on Betfair, 1.04 was available, but I asked for 1.05 and 1.06 and both were matched, literally three minutes before the markets suspended.

Twitter, after settlement, was an interesting place. Not just a few, but many people seemed genuinely shocked that Biden was the winner. Many had clearly not read the market rules. i.e. 

"This market will be settled according to the candidate that has the most projected Electoral College votes won at the 2020 presidential election. Any subsequent events such as a ‘faithless elector’ will have no effect on the settlement of this market."

Many also had no idea how a betting exchange works, and the number of people who still think Trump has a path to victory and will thus be the Next President is both astonishing and disturbing. 

No one was able to explain why, amidst what would have needed to be a multi-state coordinated conspiracy involving hundreds of people, no evidence had been found and presented in court in the six weeks since the election. 

Neither common sense nor Occam's Razor were anywhere to be found. Just lunatic after lunatic spouting nonsense about January 6th when the Congress meets, or that Trump would soon be announcing another election (he doesn't have the authority), declaring martial law, or "fraud is covered under the twelfth amendment" (it isn't). Crazy stuff, and you almost feel bad taking their money. At least I can see now where the money backing Trump was coming from.

As Biden will be inaugurated in January anyway, all this protesting is moot, but they really do seem to believe that Trump can stay in office, coming up with all kinds of bizarre theories that just have no basis in reality. 

There was soon a Facebook page for Australian / New Zealand punters who backed Trump on Betfair, and likely a UK one will follow shortly, if not already.
Plenty of screenshots of conversations with entry level help desk employees trying to end the help chat as fast as possible, which would seem unlikely to take precedence over the rules for settlement which have been present since day one of the market. If anyone has experience of dealing with any Help Desk, not just Betfair, you'll know that these aren't the sharpest and brightest of people. 

Some people appear to have literally been physically affected by this, for example::
I have a feeling this topic will provide entertainment for a while yet. There is always the USA - Trump Specials - Trump Exit Date 2 market which currently has 2021 priced at 1.04/1.05. Come on Trump fans, if you're sure he'll overturn this election result, then a lay at those odds will make you incredibly rich, but do check those silly rules this time. Use a magnifying glass if necessary. It could save you some money.
Who bets or enters any financial transaction without reading the rules? Caveat emptor as we say in Rome. 

1 comment:

Matthew Trenhaile said...

"If anyone has experience of dealing with any Help Desk, not just Betfair, you'll know that these aren't the sharpest and brightest of people."

That really is an unpleasant thing to say. The sweeping nature of the statement also of course makes it factually incorrect.