Presidential betting is unlikely to happen in West Virginia

  • The West Virginia Lottery is currently considering allowing sportsbooks in the state to offer betting on the 2020 Presidential Election and politics in general.
  • The Mountain State would have been the first state in the nation to allow gambling on political events, however, Governor Jim Justice and other lawmakers in the state disapprove.

CHARLESTON, W. Va.The West Virginia Lottery was going over the idea of allowing sportsbooks in the state like FanDuel to offer betting on the 2020 Presidential Election. As the regulator of all gambling in the state, the lottery needs to approve any new offerings like that of political wagers by operators.

FanDuel reached out to the West Virginia Lottery seeking permission to open up the gambling on politics in the Mountain State. However, the lines of communications were crossed briefly when the sportsbook listed political bets for West Virginian sports bettors prematurely.

The result ended up having FanDuel take down their betting lines as soon as they were made available.

FanDuel And West Virginia Lottery Political Discussion

Tuesday would have marked a historic day for gamblers in the United States. If West Virginia had agreed to move forward and agree to the legal betting on politics, more specifically the Presidential Election, they would have become the first state in the nation to legally offer this type of gambling.

While a plan was said to be in the works, the lottery needed more time to iron out specific details before permitting the state’s sportsbooks to venture into betting on political events.

Due to what was thought to be an initial approval, without realizing that a plan needed to be drawn up, FanDuel jumped the gun and listed bets on the 2020 Presidential Election to their customers in West Virginia for all of 40 minutes.

Once the lottery learned of the offerings, they had the sportsbook take them down. The odds that were posted had President Donald Trump (-110) as the favorite to win and Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden (+125) as the underdog.

FanDuel was not the only sportsbook to show an interest in politics for West Virginia gambling as their competitor DraftKings was as well.

“While we are excited about the possibility of offering odds on politics and elections to our customers in West Virginia, we are taking the time to ensure we evaluate the opportunity thoroughly before posting any lines,” said Matt Kalish, DraftKings North American president.

Possible Questions On Political Gambling

Other states would have been more inclined to offer political betting at their sportsbooks if West Virginia had broken the ice on the market. Some questions were raised about gambling on such events because there is always the question of integrity. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has a document dating back to 2011 prohibiting wagers on politics. An excerpt from the document states:

“Political Event Contracts can potentially be used in ways that would have an adverse effect on the integrity of elections, for example by creating monetary incentives to vote for particular candidates even when such a vote may be contrary to the voter’s political views of such candidates.”

Governor Jim Justice learned of this “expansion” only after initial approvals were reported. He was appalled at the very idea of it.

“I thought, you know, are you kidding me? The first thing that came to my mind was, you know, what next?,” said Justice on Wednesday. “It’s humorous but it’s ridiculous.”

Following his sentiments was the Secretary of State Mac Warner who said,

“Gambling on elections has been illegal in West Virginia since 1868. Gambling on the outcome of an election has no place in our American democracy. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. This is a terrible idea. Let’s shut this down right now and be very clear about it.”

The Takeaway

Political betting is prohibited in a number of states including West Virginia but it is a state-by-state legal issue. The Mountain State could’ve been the first state to create the domino effect that would have had other states in the nation begin offering wagers on politics.

While the West Virginia Lottery was initially thought to be going over rules and regulations to expand into political betting it would seem that is no longer an option. But now would be a time for sportsbooks to welcome a new source of gambling options like political betting nationwide.

The gambling market is currently enduring a lack of profits due to the Coronavirus pandemic and its suspension of sporting events to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Offshore sportsbooks are currently offering political betting lines so in order for West Virginia sportsbooks to remain competitive, they are trying to offer the same things. Since U.S. legal sports betting sites are regulated by state governments, they will have to hope for approval before doing so.

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