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Sportsbet tipped to lose at least $5.2 million after election bungle

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 19/05/2019 9News Staff

A decision to pay out early on Bill Shorten winning the federal election is expected to cost betting agency Sportsbet at least $5.2 million.

The betting company was so confident Mr Shorten would become Australia’s next prime minister, it paid out bets two days before Australians went to the polls.

Shorten was paying $1.16 to win the election at the time.

A total of $1.3 million was paid early to punters who backed Labor, but Sportsbet said its biggest hit would come from those who had put money on the Coalition to be re-elected.

"We paid out $1.3 million early to punters who backed Labor early, but on top of that we obviously have a massive payout on the Coalition which will be at least three times that figure," Sportsbet spokesman Richard Hummerston told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Scott Morrison wearing a suit and tie: Scott Morrison's win was expensive for the betting agency. © AAP Scott Morrison's win was expensive for the betting agency. "Seventy per cent of the cash staked before the early payout had come for Labor, our punters had called the election early. We thought we’d simply give them their cash early."

TAB’s Gerard Daffy said the betting turnover on the total result was a record for a federal election.

“While the biggest individual bets with us were on Bill Shorten’s ALP, we had a steady stream of smaller bets for the Coalition at longer odds and the punters ended up winning the day on the election," he said.

Mr Daffy said this election was another example of bookmakers misreading the political landscape.

“This result joins the 2016 election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum in the same year as recent political events where the betting market has not predicted the winner," he said.

A lucky punter walked away with $68,695 after putting $12,490 on the Coalition while the party was paying $5.50. However, the placed $1 million on Labor to win through Ladbrokes was not so lucky.

At least Sportsbet can see the humour and has been self-deprecating since its loss, taking the chance to have a shot at Clive Palmer’s failed $60m election campaign.

Pictures: Australian Prime Ministers through history

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