Does Political Betting Skew Voter Decisions?

June 7, 2015
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As the 2016 US Presidential Election nears, the issue of authorizing legal online betting in the United States takes a turn in topic to political wagering. There is a camp that is utterly committed to the premise that allowing wagers on the outcome of elections would certainly skew voter intentions on Election Day. These naysayers claim that instead of voting for the most qualified candidate, citizens will instead vote to support the outcome of their wagers in an effort to financial benefit from the election.

As in all debates, there are two sides to the argument and supporters of legal political betting point out that most voters cast their ballots as an expression of personal benefit already. As individuals vote for the candidate that promises to lower taxes, increase their benefit check or satisfy some type of personal objective held by individuals. Many times a vote is cast in favor of financial gain in some specific type of economic capacity, hence supporters of allowing wagers on elections contend that this will be true with or without betting options, and that voters already vote in favor of their own self interest.

It should be noted that making campaign promises to citizens during an election has been challenged on the grounds that it drives voter self interests to be reflected at the ballot box rather than a reflection of belief in the strongest candidate. The challenge was defeated when candidate promises that reflect their commitment to an issue that is express during an election were found to be protected speech under the first amendment.

Political wagering has been verifiable taking place since before the civil war. In fact, in 1916, the Wall Street outdoor curb exchange managed wagers totaling approximately $160 million. Foreign wagers on the previous 2012 election reached the hundreds of millions. Odds makers in Vegas have been quoted by ABC News to say that revenues from political betting could rival the level of revenue that changes hands during the Super Bowl, one of the most wagered on events in Las Vegas. These odds makers went on to say that the odds presented by those markets supporting political wagering are likely more accurate than the most revered political polls in the US.

Supporters of legal online betting find it hypocritical that voter self interest that is financially driven is more noble than wanting to win some money from a bet on the outcome of the election. It is documented that a significant segment of the US population already participates in legally licensed offshore betting services, and we’re pretty sure that includes political betting on elections and events taking place in the United States. Maintaining a ban on US based political betting doesn’t necessarily curtail participation or preserve some type of moral balance during elections. It simply drives all that revenue overseas to markets that have already legalized the practice in their regions.