West Virginia Lottery officials are working to make the Mountain State the first to legalize betting on politics, as FanDuel is leading the charge and even posted preliminary odds.
Bloomberg reported on this notable betting industry development, which includes other major sportsbooks negotiating plans for political gambling in West Virginia.
FanDuel actually posted odds, thinking it had the state lottery's blessing. However, the lines were taken down approximately 40 minutes after initially posting, per Bloomberg, as West Virginia wants to iron out more details and specifics before giving the official green light.
In addition to FanDuel — who also wants to offer wagers on who will be the Democrats' vice presidential nominee — DraftKings is planning to get in on the action. In the Bloomberg report, though, North American president Matt Kalish explained why it's not quite happened yet.
"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," Kalish said.
According to the odds briefly offered by FanDuel, President Donald Trump is a slight favorite to be reelected in 2020 at -110 odds, with hopeful Democratic nominee Joe Biden listed at +125 to supplant the former reality TV star.
With how much of an impact COVID-19 has had on the sports world and betting as a result, the ability to bet on politics could be huge business boon to the entire industry. As Bloomberg cites in its article, UK bettors placed $247 million USD on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Trump triumphed in 2016 despite projections strongly suggesting otherwise, such as a New York Times forecast that had Hillary Clinton with an 85% chance of winning. That may or may not created widespread apathy and a feeling of an inevitable Clinton victory that factored into a poor 55.7% voting turnout.
Politico's latest poll from Wednesday on the 2020 presidential election that surveyed 1,990 people favored Trump (44%) by eight points over Biden (36%).
Biden has been releasing videos amid the coronavirus pandemic, attempting to relay messages of hope and optimism. Unfortunately, he's struggled to communicate, which has led some to raise questions about his mental fitness. According to CNN, Trump's team has been working since mid-March to call into question this element of Biden to discredit his presidential campaign.
Whether Biden, 77, the vice president under Barack Obama, is struggling with mental fitness, it's being portrayed that way by certain factions of mass and social media — and by the Oval Office. At least in the Politico poll, that seems to be a key factor in the incumbent, impeached Trump being favored to retain his status as Commander in Chief.
The combative relationship President Trump has with the mass media is further polarizing the country and creating even more overt political agendas than usual in the press' news coverage.
Despite Biden's shaky speeches, the Trump administration's belated response to the COVID-19 crisis isn't casting the sitting, frequently-lying president in a particularly favorable light, either.
In any event, wagers on the presidential election alone would be lucrative for sportsbooks, and could lead to expansion to other elections. The upside is immense, especially if other states follow West Virginia's lead and broaden the variety of bets offered.
Another silver lining is the potential increase in civic engagement among citizens who wouldn't otherwise pay as much attention to developments in the political arena. What a notion, that betting could spur political activism and public curiosity in the U.S.
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