Casino Pushing For Legal US Presidential Election Wagering

Written By Ian St. Clair on 03/28/2020
Presidential election odds

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned America upside down.

Most can’t leave their homes, aside from the occasional grocery store or restaurant takeout trip. To make matters worse, there are no sports to serve as a distraction. Casinos have gone dark. 

As for the upcoming US presidential election, it hasn’t just moved to the backburner — it’s completely off the oven.

Likewise, the sports betting world has also been thrown into chaos. Colorado casinos that were counting down the days to the May 1 launch of legal sports betting in the state are now shuttered until at least April 11 following a mandatory stay-at-home order from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. 

With postponements and the potential of season cancellations for MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL and college football, sports bettors could get a new fix from the world of politics. While political betting is not an option in American casinos, some industry leaders are testing the waters.

Political betting  

As this story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes, Jay Kornegay has been in discussions with senior executives at the Westgate about formally making a push to bring presidential election betting to Nevada.

Kornegay is the Westgate sportsbook vice president. 

“We’ve talked to people around the world,” he told the Review-Journal. “The books that offer it say it outhandles the Super Bowl 10 times over. And it makes sense. Many more people have opinions about the election than about the Super Bowl.”

Given the unknowns of how long sports will remain delayed, political betting could fill the void for casinos in Colorado and across the country. And not just the presidential or national elections, it could also include statewide offices and prop bets. 

But as of now, it doesn’t appear that political betting is in the cards in the Centennial State. 

PlayColorado was told by the spokesman for Colorado Speaker of the House KC Becker that political betting isn’t something she’s considering. Becker represents House District 13, which includes Black Hawk and Central City.     

Presidential election

If political betting does become legal in some states, here’s a rough sketch of how it might look.

In normal circumstances, these would be exciting times for the country as it prepares to decide who will lead it for the next four years. 

While the race for the Democratic nomination appears over, the campaigning for former US Vice President Joe Biden and US Senator Bernie Sanders has skidded to a halt. In fact, Democratic primaries have been delayed or changed to mail-in ballot elections only. 

As it stands today, Biden has a clear path to the 1,991 delegate total needed to become the nominee, holding a significant lead over Sanders there and in the polls. It’s safe to presume Biden will be the Democratic nominee to challenge incumbent US President Donald Trump.

Voters would be curious to see who Biden picks as his vice president — a historic moment since he’s stated he will choose a woman. How could that decision impact oddsmakers, prospective bettors and voters? And what about the political balance of the US House and Senate? Those are just a few of the betting scenarios that could unfold.

What next?

From individuals and families to businesses and a country, we’re all in wait-and-see mode. 

We have no idea what to expect since the country hasn’t experienced anything like this in over 100 years, when the Spanish Flu killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. 

This would have been Opening Day week in MLB and the Sweet 16 for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. But sports aren’t around to serve as that needed distraction from the upheaval.

We must all do our best to maintain some semblance of normalcy in these uncertain times. 

Perhaps the solution for Coloradans, the country and casinos could come in the form of political betting. Keep an eye on developments in Nevada. If political betting gains traction there, it very well could in states such as Colorado.

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Ian St. Clair

Ian St. Clair is an award-winning sports journalist. He is a University of Northern Colorado graduate, Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. Ian does a weekly sports betting segment each Wednesday on the VSIN Denver CityCast and a segment each Saturday on Klahr and Kompany on Denver radio station ESPN 1600 AM.

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