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It’s still illegal to gamble on the election, but that may not last for much longer

Ryan Young
·Writer
·2-min read

While sports gambling is growing rapidly throughout the United States, it is still illegal to bet on political elections in the country.

That, of course, hasn’t stopped people abroad from betting in the presidential race this week between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden. According to the AFP, more than $1 billion was wagered on the election worldwide, double what was placed in 2016.

One British gambler reportedly even threw down a $5 million bet on Trump to win, which is believed to be the largest political bet ever placed, according to The New York Post.

Though Americans can’t legally bet on politics, BetMGM sportsbook manager Matt Cosgriff doesn’t think that will be the case for much longer.

Political wagering growing in popularity

Cosgriff said on Friday that, if he were setting the odds, that he believes wagering on politics will be legal in time for the 2028 presidential election.

With how he’s seen the sports world embrace gambling in recent years — Fox announcers Troy Aikman and Joe Buck even referenced it on air while calling the Green Bay Packers-San Francisco 49ers game on Thursday night — it would only make sense to see politics follow suit.

“As betting becomes more mainstream, acceptance will grow,” Cosgriff said. “We are already seeing sports leagues and broadcasters leaning into gambling. A great example of this is BetMGM’s partnership with the PGA Tour. During this year’s CJ Cup, BetMGM’s live odds for the tournament winner were displayed during the broadcast.”

Three states — Maryland, Louisiana and South Dakota — overwhelmingly passed measures to legalize sports betting this week. Now, 25 of the 50 states in the country either allow or are in the process of launching legal sports betting just two years after the Supreme Court ruled it possible.

Political wagering was briefly allowed in West Virginia earlier this year, too, though FanDuel took just one bet in the state during the hour period when it was allowed to take bets before the state reversed course and shut it down, according to The Associated Press.

While it may take time and there are plenty of details to be ironed out, Cosgriff thinks that gambling on major elections might soon be wildly popular.

“Two factors drive betting: Passion and media coverage,” Cosgriff said. “Elections have both and it would not be surprising to see Presidential Elections surpass betting on the Super Bowl.”

A gambler enters his bet during the launch of legalized sports betting in Michigan at the MGM Grand Detroit casino in Detroit, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Could legal betting on presidential elections happen in the near future? (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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