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Will U.S. Ever Have Election Betting?

September 14, 2020

This year’s elections figure to be perhaps the most contested elections in U.S. history. There is a real sense that the fate of the country could turn with every contest in every state. That creates a lot of interest as approximately 130,000,000 million Americans head to the polls.

If that sounds like the perfect storm for online bookmakers in the U.S., that would be an accurate assessment of if wagering on elections was allowed. Unfortunately, wagering on the outcome of an election is currently illegal in the U.S.

With the country in turmoil over every aspect of how society functions, it seems appropriate there would be a huge ongoing debate about legalizing election betting. Bookmakers seem to be all for it. As for the politicians themselves, there seems to be division, and for once, it does not seem to be divided along party lines.

Here is what Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told the press during the 2019 Gaming Expo:

“If the regulators believe that they can handle it in a way that’s appropriate … people are doing this stuff anyway. This is the joke of this: People are betting on presidential elections, people are betting on the Oscars, they have office pools and all the rest of this stuff. So, this stuff is all going on anyway."

Cuomo is correct about people already betting on elections. If the motivation is there, there are plenty of European offshore bookmakers who are more than happy to welcome U.S. money on the presidential election. In Europe, betting on elections is a time-honored tradition.

It's no small thing that top Las Vegas oddsmakers like Jimmy Vaccaro and Johnny Avello are clearly behind the idea of allowing U.S. citizens to wager on the presidential election at a minimum. Avello believes it would generate a lot of wagering revenue in the future odds market. Just imagine the possibilities that would come from opening up wagering on the 2024 election should there be no incumbent running.

On both sides of the election betting issue, there seems to be a consensus that it’s not likely to see legalization anytime soon. However, there is a possibility that as more states legalize online sports betting activities, the gamblers will have their say. If the flow of money on U.S. elections continues going overseas, there could be pressure brought to bear by the masses to make a change.

What that change might look like remains to be seen.

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