EU referendum and online gambling: who's winning the search battle?

This week’s EU referendum has produced a lot of debate of course, but it’s also become a major online betting event.

The value of bets on Brexit vs Remain has now exceeded the previous biggest political betting event, the 2012 US election, on one betting site.

recent press release from online betting exchange Betfair reported that betting on the 2012 US election reached £40m. Now the EU referendum has exceeded that mark, with more than £43 million in bets matched on the exchange.

betfair brexit


The opinion polls are predicting a close outcome in the referendum, but the bookies are more certain that a Brexit vote is highly unlikely.


One interesting aspect with a relatively unique betting event such as this is the opportunity for new customer acquisition.

It’s likely to attract visitors who wouldn’t normally head for betting sites, and should be seen as an opportunity to acquire new users. One of the key areas here is search.

Which betting sites are ranking for EU referendum betting?

Here’s some data from Google Trends, showing the spike in user interest for terms around EU referendum betting over the past 12 months.

We can see the recent spike in interest, which obviously presents an opportunity for traffic and customer acquisition for the betting sites.

brexit betting

Unlike seasonal SEO events like Christmas or major sports championships, this referendum is a one-off (hopefully) so strategy has to be geared towards this single event.

For EU referendum betting, the gambling sites have had around a year to prepare for the event. There may not have been much interest 12 months ago, though we can see that interest in betting has only really taken hold in the last two to three months. This is the spike that these sites should have prepared for.

According to data from PI Datametics, the term ‘EU referendum odds’ was searched on average 1,000 times in November 2015 and is now being searched 40,500 times a month.

We don’t have the data for June yet, but I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll be in six figures, as the chart above suggests.

Top organic search performers

The top performers (from the gambling sector) are:

  1. Odds Checker
  2. Paddy Power
  3. Ladbrokes


All three sites rank highly for the term, and consistently too. Just compare their performance to that of their rivals:


This points to a lack of a coherent strategy around EU referendum betting. For example, Betfair has has 10 separate pages performing for this term, hindering its ability to hit a high search position.

Again, so much of this is about effective internal linking and creation of single landing pages for high value and high traffic search terms.

Basically, create a landing page for the key search terms, and use content and well-organised linking to ensure that it isn’t competing with other pages for the same keywords.

With £43m matched on the exchange alone, it’s fair to say that Betfair has done well from this event, but could it have done better with the right SEO strategy? I’d say so.

A missed PPC opportunity?

I have a final point here – have the betting sites missed a PPC opportunity around referendum betting?

There is just one site buying ads today on the term, which seems surprising given the traffic being generated around the referendum.

With the three sites above occupying the key organic search positions, it seems strange that more sites aren’t using PPC to leapfrog their rivals and gain instant visibility here.

ppc eu

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