The polls are now open in Scotland, with voters deciding the fate of the 307-year-old union with England. The final batch of surveys suggests an incredibly close race, to be decided by a percentage point or two in either direction.
Britain’s bookies don’t think it will be as close as that, and they’re not known for casually parting with money. On the eve of the vote, more than 20 of the UK’s biggest gambling sites were laying average odds of 7/2 on a victory for the “Yes” (to independence) campaign. (In decimal odds that’s 4.5, or a +350 moneyline.) This implies only a 22% chance of Scots voting for independence.
On exchanges that are still taking money today, the odds of a “Yes” vote have drifted further, to around 5/1, or a 17% probability. One site already paid out on some “No” bets, such is its apparent confidence in the final result.
To put these odds in perspective, here are some upcoming sporting events that bookmakers think are roughly as likely as the Scotland breaking away from the UK:
- Leicester beating Manchester United on Sep. 21 (English Premier League)
- Minnesota Vikings beating the New Orleans Saints on Sep. 21 (National Football League)
- Argentina beating New Zealand on Sep. 27 (Rugby Championship)
Although the “Yes” camp is the underdog, it’s still fair to describe the race as “too close to call,” given the narrow poll margins amid expectations for a big turnout and a unique electorate that includes 16- and 17-year-olds voting for the first time, as well as EU and Commonwealth citizens resident in Scotland (but not Scots who live abroad). Prediction markets also have a mixed record of correctly calling elections.
Also, Argentina has never beaten New Zealand in rugby. But there’s a first time for everything.