One day before one of the most important, if not most divisive US presidential elections in modern American history, the exchange markets that offer the closest thing to wagering on the contest in the United States have come to a consensus.
If the American public was to put money on the result, Democrat Joe Biden would be an odds-on pick to relegate Donald Trump to a one-term presidency. DraftKings and FanDuel customers, however, are still hoping to make their virtual wallets great again.
Wagering on politics is not at all legal in the United States, as it is in Europe and other jurisdictions, but exchange markets offering free-to-play pools or subscription markets on certain outcomes have become more ubiquitous in recent years. There appears to be at least a short-term demand for them, as they provide entertainment.
“The appetite for Americans wanting to bet on elections is clearly there, from all data we have seen,” BallStreet Trading founder Scott San Emeterio told PlayUSA. “The elections are at pace with the NFL when there is news to trade on, and we are fully expecting major volume on Election Day. Betting and trading markets are the ultimate arena for people to compare and contrast opinions. There isn’t a better venue than politics for that.”
Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting at GVC, estimated that $1 billion has been wagered globally on the presidential election.
Industry analyst and SpringOwl Asset Management founder Jason Ader told PlayUSA he is of the opinion that betting on US politics will eventually become a legalized norm in the United States, as it is in Europe. While many occurrences would have to be in play for that to happen, an advertisement on Fox News, voiced by a news personality promoting a free-play election pool, helped convince him.
“I think they’ll legalize it over time,” Ader told PlayUSA. “Fox was promoting people to go to Fox Bet, and they had some pick-six game going on. I thought that was pretty amazing that Fox News is promoting Fox Bet, not for money, but for fun.
“But they’re not doing it for fun forever. It’s hard not to imagine betting on politics, betting on TV shows.”
Interest peaking as 2020 US presidential election approaches
BallStreet Trading, a free-play exchange market that expanded from sports to politics recently, has 13 political markets live, including the presidential winner, Senate majority, multiple state results and whether a major media outlet will make an official call before midnight.
San Emeterio told PlayUSA that BallStreet has processed nearly 40,000 electoral trades with “momentum building into Election Day.” BallStreet announced this week that it will livestream multiple news sources on Tuesday to augment traders’ decision-making.
Emeterio said analysis of trading so far has revealed a “slight lean to the right for our traders, which could place a premium on Trump shares [both in] general as well as how each state has been trading.”
“BallStreet markets at a macro level seem to forecast a much tighter race than other betting or prediction markets,” he added. “The big takeaway is, with this potential bias in the market, I think BallStreet could be a strong indicator if Trump begins to sell off with any momentum. For right-leaning traders to sell Trump would clearly show a conviction trade, which could tell a compelling story on election night.”
At PredictIt, which is allowed to offer fee-based speculation on political markets because, as it states on its website, it’s an “experimental project operated for academic purposes under permission from the [Commodities Futures Trading Commission],” investors were painting Biden as a runaway winner on Monday afternoon, with his shares trading at 65 cents and Trump at 41.
Not surprisingly, the PredictIt forum has become as contentious as the comments section for political news coverage. The company sent subscribers an email on Monday warning that high volumes of trading could slow transaction times.
DraftKings and FanDuel test electoral waters with pools
Daily fantasy and sports betting outlets DraftKings and FanDuel are offering free-to-play election pools with prizes, in addition to Fox Bet, but, as noted by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming Analyst Alun Bowden in a response to the below DraftKings tweet, “volatility is high on low-repetition events.”
Indeed, emotion and partisanship were holding sway for players in their DFS lineups or bets on Monday afternoon, with Colorado the only bastion of blue for the Democrats in the DraftKings game.
FanDuel set mock lines for various pool questions on Oct. 19 (and hasn’t moved them), challenging players to win tokens for correctly predicting outcomes at longer odds.
Among the questions:
- Who will win the US presidency?
- Trump 57% (+138) Biden 43% (-175)
- Will either candidate win the popular vote by 10% or more?
- No 56% (-200) Yes 44% (+175)
- Will Biden be the first Democrat to win Texas since 1976?
- No 72% (-333) Yes 28% (+225)
- Who will win Florida?
- Trump 70% (+110) Biden 30% (-150)
- Who will win PA?
- Trump 54% (+225) Biden 46% (-350)
- Who will win Michigan?
- Trump 45% (+225) Biden 55% (-350)
- Who will win Iowa?
- Trump 62% (-175) Biden 38% (+125)
- Who will win Nevada?
- Trump 49% (+225) Biden 51% (-350)
According to a FanDuel news release, its parent company, Flutter Entertainment, has a liability of $10 million in Europe, where “Trump amounts for the biggest number of bets (67%) and the most volume (80%)” despite recent trends skewing toward Biden.
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, where betting on politics is an age-old passion, Biden was as short as -275 at political specialists SpreadEX, but no worse than -200 at 18 shops offering lines. Trump, meanwhile, hovered between +150 and +190.