With the West enforcing hefty sanctions on Russian oligarch assets, the latest episode of Star Sports Polling Station podcast analysed what it means for the political betting landscape.

Paul Krishnamurty was joined by colleagues poker champion Neil Channing, Johnny Ward and political analyst William Kedjany to discuss political betting amid the current Ukraine crisis.

“There’s no question, the Government are dragging their heels,” said Krishnamurty in a response to a question about the UK’s silence on Russian money.

“Criminally they’re being able to distract from the fact that they have taken millions from Putin-linked sources for years.”

Fellow commentator Neil Channing then took on the stage to further analyse the Conservative-oligarch relations, reasserting Krishnamurty’s remark:

“It’s never been a secret, has it,” Channing rhetorically asked. He continued by stating that ‘The Conservative Friends of Russia’ organisation had set up Boris Johnson with a connection that managed to secure him large investment streams for the Tory Party.

Also mentioned was the annual ‘black tie ball’ where auctions are held for prominent bidders who are ‘usually quite connected to Russian oligarchs’, as Channing stated.

Speaking about how the relationship between Russian oligarchs and Britain’s political elite affects UK political betting, the 2008 poker champion shared that he doesn’t ‘know if it changes that much’, as people tend to ‘generally ignore it’.

Furthermore, Channing’s self-described ‘obsession’ with the Boris Johnson exit date betting scene has led him to some interesting observations.

“Last week for the first time Boris Johnson to go in 2022 broke through the EVA (Economic Value Added) money barrier. The shortest price it got on the exchanges was 1.27, and that was literally as the news of the suitcases of wine being carried in the parties came out,” Channing noted.

He continued: “People obviously thought that was it. And he had been kind of four to five, 1.8 the night before. And then, as the troops occupied the Southeast of Ukraine, he went to even money.”

“A bloke wanted to have £25,000 at 2:1 that Boris Johnson would go this year. That seems a funny time to be betting that. There’s a lot of spoofing in the market, people put out money, they try and force the market around, but it’s funny.

“It hasn’t budged from five to four for four days, six days into the invasion. For four days people have thought it’s about five to four that he will go this year. Surely, as the thing takes longer and longer, it means more chance that Johnson stays, doesn’t it? Has anyone heard the name Sue Gray in the last week,” Channing asked ironically.

“Anyway, this morning I woke up and it’s still five to four. I popped out for a couple of hours at lunch time. I come back, and he’s gone from 2.38 that he goes this year to 2.62. It’s a very thin market – it’s 2.62 to 2.72. Nothing happened in those three hours to make it more likely that Johnson stays this year, but it’s like people have suddenly woken up to it. I don’t know, can you explain that,” the poker star turned to the Polling Station panel. 

Krishnamurty replied: “I don’t think so. It’s a thin market, there’s not that many people playing in it. There’s a lot of other political news-wise things to focus on. We’ve seen this so many times – if something isn’t happening everyone thinks it’s the status quo. 

“But the Gray report isn’t out, the Metropolitan Police haven’t issued their cautions yet, and the local elections are still to come. I would still think there’s juice in 2.62.”

Krishnamurty concluded with a comment on whether Boris Johnson and his ‘clique’ can survive when the formidable force of the US and the EU combine to bring down the Putin regime: 

“Moving into the State of the Union, Biden was crystal clear about finding Russian private jets, yachts, and houses. Well you know where they’re going to find them? They’re going to find them in Britain. 

“In British tax havens, in Belize, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Now, the question I have is, as much as Boris Johnson and his little clique have great power in this country over the media and such, can they really survive when the EU and the United States of America are helping in bringing down this regime?”

Star Sports – The Polling Station: How the political betting landscape has changed