5/14 Forever: Why US Sportsbooks Won’t Let You Bet on Elections and When that Might Change

With the 2022 midterm elections coming up, bettors who are looking to wager on political races happening in the United States may be surprised to find that no domestic sportsbooks will allow them to put futures bets on elections. 

Betting on elections remains illegal, in spite of the landmark May 14, 2018 Murphy vs. NCAA US Supreme Court ruling, which paved the way for legal sports betting in states across the country.

Dimers.com writer Michael Krumholtz takes a look at when things might, but probably won't, change.

 

Major sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings sometimes offer free-to-play election betting where nothing is actually being wagered. But the only legitimately run books where bettors can put money on U.S. elections are overseas.

Why is that?

To put it simply: although states are now free to legalize sports betting following the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, election betting is still illegal throughout the U.S.

We know that regulated sports betting is in the very nascent stages in the U.S., and as the country catches up to the rest of the world with its betting laws, there are still stark differences. Betting on elections futures — like who the next president will be — is actually surprisingly popular in the UK and offshore sportsbooks. 

In fact, the last general election between incumbent Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden saw more than $300 million wagered at Betfair. 

Although sports will always be the bread and butter, that is a lot of money for stateside operations to potentially leave off the table every few years. 

That’s why it should come as no surprise that FanDuel’s former CEO Matt King said in 2019 that he would be interested in being able to allow for political wagers on the FanDuel site. 

However, a change this drastic isn’t likely anytime soon. With increasing scrutiny drawn to elections processes in this country, it’s hard to imagine many states wanting to broach that territory at all.

The threat of controversy and outcry from a U.S. public that is still getting used to a future where sports betting is commonplace and accepted is probably enough to keep lawmakers away for now.

And the bottom line is it may stay that way for the foreseeable future. Although betting companies here will likely ramp up lobbying efforts to legalize betting on elections, the country’s political climate may prevent any progress being made. Those in charge may not see the reward being proportional to the amount of risk that comes with pushing forward such legislation right now.

In the long run, as the stigma associated with sports betting dissipates in the U.S. and the fervor over elections hopefully does the same, the sportsbooks here will likely be able to capitalize off politics in the same ways that their counterparts in other countries can.

Currently at the Panamanian sportsbook BetOnline, for example, there are odds up on the Georgia Republican Primary race, the New York Democratic Primary and who the next Georgia governor will be, among other American elections.

Notably, there are also odds given on what President Biden’s approval rating will be when the next official percentages are released on June 1. That may be one low-stakes way that domestic sportsbooks can begin to dip their water into politics, as they’d be avoiding any election gambling by simply posing an over/under proposition.

When it comes to legalizing sports betting, our country has come a long way in just four years. And every day sportsbooks here are looking more and more like those abroad as they try to play catch up. 

Though this may not be the perfect time politically for lawmakers to lift restrictions on betting on elections, that day is coming eventually.

If you're in a US state that is lucky enough to have online sports betting, why not celebrate by securing yourself 5 x $100 risk-free bets from PointsBet? Claim them ➡️ here ⬅️.

 

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