Bookmakers Bet Big on French Presidential Election

A surprising 2016 that saw Britain vote ‘leave’ on the EU referendum and former casino mogul Donald Trump defy all logic and become the 45th President of the United States taught us all a lesson that the unpredictability of politics should never be underestimated.

Opinion polls, political experts, and even fortune tellers with crystal balls and other magical devices have been some of the traditional sources of information about the potential outcome of one political event or another. However, bookmakers have made a firm statement over the past several years that they have their own say on how a referendum or election could revolve.

The outcome of the upcoming French presidential election may turn into this year’s big political surprise. Although the first voting round is almost a month away, it all shows that the race for France’s highest office will be extremely fierce. Polls indicate that three particular candidates – Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen, and François Fillon – have the biggest chance of winning, and so do bookmakers’ odds.

The French presidential election is an event of global importance, so it is not a surprise that bookies are taking odds on its outcome. The election of Donald Trump as the latest US President came as a big blow to many, including some gambling operators. Irish bookmaker Paddy Power had to pay out around €5 million to bettors who had opted for Mr. Trump winning the race. It can be said that Paddy Power and its fellow bookies bet almost as big on the French presidential election, and some shocking turn of events could cost them just as much.

The French presidential election will take place over two rounds of votes. The first round is slated for April 23, 2017. If any of the presidential candidates gets support from more than a half of all voters, no second round will be held. Otherwise, the top two candidates from the first round will face off in the second one on May 7.

And here is how some of the world’s largest bookmakers have priced the three frontrunners. It is important to note that with the first round of votes being almost a month away, there is still time for all three candidate’s dirty linen to be aired, if there is any and odds may thus change overnight.

Emmanuel Macron

The En Marche! party leader and former Minister of the Economy, Finance, and Industry is currently bookmakers’ favorite for winning the presidential race. Mr. Macron became the frontrunner after news emerged that both Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Fillon were facing allegations of misusing EU funds to pay staff members for non-existent jobs.

Mr. Macron’s pro-business and pro-European campaign have won him the favor of many. Although it can be said that he has so far managed to steer clear of any big scandal or blunder, it is still too early to name him a president. The candidate was attacked earlier this year with rumors about an extramarital gay relationship, which he did not hesitate to kill in due time. But aside from that and his recent geography gaffe of calling French Guiana an island, his reputation has remained relatively unsmeared.

Odds on him winning the presidential election are at 4/9 with bet365, SkyBet, William Hill, and Paddy Power, at 1/2 with Ladbrokes and 888sport, and at 8/15 with Coral.

Polls and odds show that Marine Le Pen could easily win the first round of votes. SkyBet and Betfred have priced her and Mr. Macron as the final two in the race at 1/4; Ladbrokes has priced them at 1/2; and Betway has priced the pair at 2/7.

Marine Le Pen

Ms. Le Pen’s outspokenness has been applauded by some and condemned by others. The same goes for her stance on France’s EU membership and the migrant crisis. Although the Front National leader is named as the likely winner of the first voting round, it is believed that she may not stand a chance against Mr. Macron in the second and final round.

Odds for Ms. Le Pen winning the presidential election are at 3/1 with bet365, Paddy Power, and Ladbrokes, at 10/3 with SkyBet, and at 16/5 with William Hill.

Ms. Le Pen’s presidential bid has been embroiled in serious controversy on several occasions. In February, the Front National’s head office was raided by French police over fake jobs funding allegations. She has also recently been stripped of immunity by the European Parliament over violent ISIS tweets she had posted in 2015.

François Fillon

The former Prime Minister of France has up until recently led the presidential polls. However, his prospects sunk significantly after what had been dubbed the ‘Penelopegate’ scandal, involving his Welsh wife – Penelope Fillon – and fake jobs allegations. The couple has been investigated by French police for allegedly forging documents to justify a huge amount of money Mrs. Fillon had earned for taking a fake parliamentary assistant job.

Despite his promises to mend the “bankrupt” France, Mr. Fillon’s chance to win the presidential race has plunged considerably, according to bookmakers, as well. Odds on him becoming the next French president are at 11/2 with bet365, William Hill, Paddy Power, and Betway, at 6/1 with SkyBet and 32Red, and at 5/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral.

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