Frustrated Gamblers Turn to Politics as the Only Game in Town

The cancellation of the opening weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (March 19-22) – usually one of the biggest betting events of the year – has left a $ 140 million wound in the betting industry, according to some bookmakers. However, the total disposable income has not remained intact. Some savvy players find that they can look for changing odds in the 2020 US presidential election or quickly bet on random proposition bets, such as how often President Trump tweets “Chinese Virus” from March 21-22 (if you do more than once guessed) you lost) and whether Joe Biden will choose Elizabeth Warren as his running mate (weather thinks she’s fading; she went from 8 to 1 on March 5 to a 12-to-1 shot starting Thursday) ), not to mention a political host besides betting on the oil price, the Dow, and the value of Netflix stock.

Interestingly, the rise in political betting has exposed an uncomfortable gray area in the law.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Act (PAPSA), a federal ban on sports games in all states except Oregon, Montana, Delaware, and of course Nevada. Since then, at least 40 states have introduced laws to legalize sports betting, with 16 states already in the implementation phase. While some bookmakers in Vegas publish odds for an election or, for example, the Academy Awards, this is for entertainment purposes only. You do not take actual bets. There is currently no state, although a couple like Indiana and New Jersey have approved betting on the latest Oscars and may leave the door open for future politics.

PredictIt, a political betting website, operates openly from Washington DC and does prop bets on everything from Trump’s re-election to the number of times he tweets in a week, except that the website is not a website is profit accumulation data for academic research. The website pays more like the stock market – you buy a Kamala Harris share for $ 0.50. If she wins, you get $ 1. If she loses, you get nothing. The even more foggy realm of online and offshore betting sites, released by the Supreme Court decision, has opened the virtual cage to betting on just about anything.

In the UK, where gambling has been legal in politics for decades, elections are big business for bookmakers.

According to Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting at Ladbrokes Coral Group, a London-based betting group, bets on the results of votes such as the Scottish independence referendum and Brexit have increased steadily over the past 10 years. But he says that when it comes to action, nothing really compares to American politics with its direct elections and oversized personalities.

“The Trump election was huge,” he says. “In general, presidential elections are a nice binary option. There are complicated parliamentary processes in European elections. But Trump is such a well-known and controversial figure. The 2020 US general election will undoubtedly be the next big thing. From all the money we borrow, I realize that it will break all records. “

Trump’s surprising victory in 2016 brought the British bookmakers, according to Shaddick, around 100 million pounds of action ($ 85.2 million), which is a huge football game and much larger than the Wimbledon final or a major golf tournament. He believes Trump’s reelection offer in November could be two to three times as big. Later this week, Ladbrokes listed Trump as balanced money (essentially a 50:50 chance) to win Joe Biden, the favorite who emerged from the Democratic primary as a candidate for the party. Until recently, most odds makers had Trump as a strong favorite to win re-election, but that has changed since the Covid-19 outbreak and the stock market slump.

“It will continue to grow,” says Shaddick. “The fact that the sport is discontinued, the fact that they will not be attending the Olympic Games, there is no doubt that the US election will be the largest market we are dealing in.”

Whether the Americans actually put their bankroll on the political horse race– either legally, illegally or somewhere in between – it is clear that the public interest in following the opportunities grows.

During the last democratic debate, FanDuel, the online fantasy sports website, published a free online competition worth $ 10,000 in which participants had to provide the most correct answers to a number of questions: which candidate mentioned this first Wash your hands and whether Joe Biden would pronounce his trademark “Malarkey”. The FanDuel event was more like fantasy league football than direct betting and was a way for sports fans to scratch the itch in the absence of a television game. And USA Today reported that there were 60,000 unique entries.

The American gaming media are also monitoring the chances of winning more closely. Action Network, the new one-stop site for everything related to sports games, was and is launched by Chad Millman, a former ESPN editor who launched the company’s gaming news site entitled “Chalk” made politics a full-time beat. Other outlets from the New York Daily News to the Baltimore Sun. to Forbes have recently released updates to current presidential rates.

“We serve hardcore weather with daily reporting, but this is definitely more important than our typical base,” said Katie Richcreek, a senior editor who writes about politics at Action Network. “Most of our traffic to this reporting comes from organic Google searches.”

The line between bookmaking and good old political analysis is sometimes difficult to see – at least to the point where money changes hands.

“The most important thing when betting is to be at the forefront of your market and your assessment and to be well informed,” said Angus Ham, political betting analyst and chief political dealer at BookMaker, who has been setting odds and betting policies since before the 1992 Clinton / Bush / Perot presidential election. “You’re reading Real Clear Politics’ press wires for a collection of articles. They watch CNN and listen to the news quite often. In the US, look at the relevant surveys. The three most important things are research, research and research. “

Richcreek says interest has increased before the launch of Covid-19 in the weeks leading up to Super Tuesday, but she believes readers will be following the president’s chances of winning while the sport is paused – whether or not they are actually doing money for the race or not.

“I don’t know if it’s because they’re interested in betting on it or they’re looking for ways to gauge the race,” Richcreek says.

There is debate about whether betting odds predict political results more accurately than many models and surveys, although there is not much evidence that one is better than the other. But Richcreek says the opportunities could be easier for people to understand.

“As long as there are races, there will be interest in how sports books represent their chances of winning,” she says. “We try to translate quotas so that readers understand them. I think it’s easier for people to understand than for models. “

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