Sound idea, poor execution

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False start.

You’ve got to give West Virginia credit for trying to get the jump on things. With no sports to bet on, that state’s Lottery Commission, which oversees sports betting, figured it would try to think outside the box, at least in this country, by offering wagering on the upcoming presidential election in November.

The incumbent, Donald Trump, was a slight favorite over the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden of Delaware. FanDuel had excitedly launched action on its site in the Mountain State.

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One problem: the West Virginia state constitution says it’s illegal to wager on the outcome of an election. In less than an hour, FanDuel quickly took down the bet on its mobile app, the head of the Lottery Commission wiped the egg off his face and apologized for jumping the gun without checking with the lawyers first before giving the green light and it was back to bettors in the Mountain State making wagers on soccer in Belarus.

John Myers, who heads the Lottery Commission, said of the gaffe: “I thought it would be okay, but after review, it was clearly a mistake. We just screwed up. I didn’t have the authority to do it, it should have never happened and I apologize to everyone.”

Apology accepted. Nice try.

In a time where the sports betting industry is taking it in the shorts, the opportunity to bet on a presidential election in November would no doubt be a shot in the arm. It wouldn’t wipe out the billions already lost as the coronavirus has shut down retail operations everywhere and some mobile apps in various states, including Nevada. But it would be a pleasant diversion for us and it would certainly create new clientele for the books with people who don’t know squat about sports but obviously have an opinion about politics.

Joe Asher, the CEO Of William Hill US, would love to offer action in the states on the election. His England-based company has been booking bets on elections for decades and he already has laid down a bet on Biden, his fellow Delawarean and friend.

Imagine the possibilities. Prop bets on who Biden’s vice president choice will be? Over-unders on number of states won? Which states would Trump be favored to win?

It may not rival the menu of Super Bowl props, but boy would it be fun to be able to put down a few bucks on whether Trump wins Michigan.

Unfortunately, it would take a revision of most states’ constitutions and the approval of gaming commissions for this to happen. And right now, with all that’s going on, it’s unlikely such altered legislation will take place.

We know it ain’t happening in West Virginia where Mac Warner, the Secretary of State, said in a statement: “Gambling on the outcome of an election has no place in our American democracy. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.”

But perhaps one state might be able to move on this quicker than the others. Maybe by fall approval is granted and companies like William Hill, FanDuel and DraftKings can put election wagering on their menus.

I doubt it will come to pass. But we can always hope. Can you imagine New Jersey approving wagering on elections, Trump opening a FanDuel account and making a multi-million dollar bet on himself to be re-elected?

Now that would be a hell of a story. Hey, stranger things have happened.

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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