Bets taken on JCR election

first_imgA second-year historian at Wadham has started a Facebook-based betting ring, allowing students to gamble on the outcome of the college’s upcoming Student Union presidential elections. Peter Wright started a Facebook group called “Honest Pete’s Bookies – BetWright” calling group members to place bets on who they think will win. Yet according to one former SU President, the betting system threatens to manipulate the election in favour of candidates with high odds, as students who have bet on them are likely to also give them their vote. “This year’s race for the SU Presidency looks to be the most hotly contested in recent memory,” advertises the group, “and to add to the fun we’re taking bets on all candidates for the most important position in Wadham politics.” Wright said he came up with the idea of this group while he and his friends were “idling in armchairs over tea and pipes, discussing the upcoming SU election. “Following the hilarity that was the London mayoral election, we decided that offering bets on candidates for SU President might be an effective way of not only stimulating interest in the election, but adding a little amusement to our own jaded lives,” he said. There are seven candidates rumoured to be running for the SU election next week. Activity on the group began with the first post, in which starting odds were given on 4 May, and was soon followed by revised odds and updates on candidacy dropouts. On 5 May, Elena Lynch went from joint to outright favourite, nudging ahead of main rival Will McCullum with odds of 5 – 4. The webpage has since expanded to include details of candidate endorsement by current Wadham student politicians, updated reports and analysis of election momentum. Some candidates have even bet on themselves: one update reads, “Ciaran bets £1 on himself – the Jebb campaign juggernaut lumbers into action.” Jebb, whose odds are currently 25 – 1, has used the group for self-promotion, writing on the group wall, “I’d like to be the first candidate to use this opportunity for shameless self-promotion. Vote for me, and I promise free jelly for all Wadhamites!” Jebb is listed as a ‘Rank outsider’, with another presidential candidate Stuart Mason, listed as ‘Dark horse’ officer of the group. “I think that the group has had a positive impact in getting people to talk about the merits of the various candidates and combat voter apathy” Mason stated. He continued, “I haven’t placed any bets myself because I prefer to let my experience and candidacy to speak for itself. May the best candidate win.” Stuart Mason: 10-1 Nick Coxon: 5-2 Hume Howe: 5-1 Former SU President Ben Jasper claimed that ‘BetWright’ was an “old syndicate betting trick.” Jasper wrote on the group wall, “Used in Thailand in its elections. High odds on the candidates you want to win, most bet on those, it ‘locks’ them into voting for the candidate. Makes everyone money, (apart from Pete) and changes the results of elections. Sure to have an interesting impact.” SU presidential candidate and first year PPEist Nick Coxon is not worried about ‘BetWright’ manipulating elections. He said, “I think it’s a really interesting thing to be doing. It gets people interested and to pay attention to what’s going on with the Students’ Union. “The more people get involved, the more people will be interested in SU politics and elections, and the better voter outcome the election will see.” Coxon said he most likely will not be placing a bet, as he “hates to play by chance.” He went on, “I’m confident that people of Wadham will make the right choice.” Another candidate, Hume Howe, spoke out about the betting. He said, “Pete’s goal, as with any bookies, is to make money to throw a house party. “Gambling is a very bad bad thing that inhibits intellectual growth. We live in an era of monetary unrest, gambling promotes widening the gap between the upper and working class. My regime will include efforts to close this gap by educating micromanagment.” Wadham SU hustings will be held 14 May, and the elections on 15 May. Run and financed independently of the Wadham SU, ‘BetWright’ allows members to gamble on their candidate of choice by requesting a betting slip. The minimum bet is £1 and according to Wright, who is solely responsible for the set-up, “bets are not confirmed until you have a slip.” ‘BetWright’ offers insurance for an extra £1 and permits betters reclaim of stake if their candidate drops out. Wright has claimed that “Any profit will go to funding a massive party.”last_img read more