Presidential Election Betting Interest In West Virginia

Legal West Virginia Gambling on Government Elections
Apr 14, 2020 14:04Joe Tarzaiski

FanDuel and BetMGM joins FanDuel to seek allowance for permission of allowing 2020 presidential election betting in West Virginia.

Several emails surfaced Monday on Document Cloud, a sharing platform for journalists, regarding information between WV Lottery officials and representatives from the bookmakers.

What Information Was Contained In The Emails?

Between April 6-8, messages emerged involving operators, host regulators, and West Virginia officials after FanDuel’s approval for election wagering last Tuesday.

  • The lottery approved federal election betting for DraftKings/PNG, BetMGM and FanDuel immediately on April 7.
  • FanDuel posted election markets less than three hours after receiving the go-ahead from West Virginia regulators.
  • Lottery officials then abruptly reversed course within minutes of FanDuel posting odds.

Mac Miller, West Virginia Secretary of State, condemned election betting Wednesday morning, stating it was “illegal” and a “terrible idea.”

Revelations From First Email

This email was between Erich Zimny, vice president of racing and sports operations for Hollywood Casino, and David Bradley, deputy director of security for the lottery.

The following words were taken from an email dated April 6 at 3:56pm EDT:

“…both us and DraftKings would like to explore the possibility of offering political props on major election markets. I’ve attached a presentation prepared by DraftKings regarding some of the aspects of the political prop market.

“We certainly understand and respect that it’s been an area you all have tread lightly on thus far and would – as always – welcome your feedback as to whether it would be something WV Lottery would entertain in whole or in part. If there are any further questions that could be answered, just let us know.

“I realize this would be new ground for us and Lottery but, as you could imagine, in the struggle for markets to bet into these days, we’re looking for what’s out there that could entice some interest.”

DraftKings Pitch for Election Betting

An eighteen page proposal from DraftKings was written April 3. Here are a few highlights:

  • Wagering on politics is available and extremely popular in several of the world’s largest overseas, regulated gambling jurisdictions.
  • The total amount matched on Betfair’s (UK Based) 2016 US election markets was roughly $284 million, compared with $50 million on the 2012 election.
  • Google trends data… shows that Bovada, the most well-known offshore site to Americans, is more sought after than both DraftKings and FanDuel.
  • Bovada is easily accessible on mobile devices throughout New Jersey and has a robust politics section.
  • Given a lack of sportsbook alternatives, Bovada election odds are also regularly cited reputable news sources.

DraftKings has discovered US election betting potential to generate $1.1 million in West Virginia if available by May 1. The fuel to this concept is largely due to the recent shut down of the suspension of all major sports.

A message from Sheeran, FanDuel’s director of risk and trading, messaged lottery spokesperson Randy Burnside at 8:57pm on Tuesday.

“While the markets were approved, the West Virginia Lottery has asked FanDuel to refrain from offering the markets until they have time to fully work through the implications of this new market offering.”

A response was sent in response Wednesday morning from Bradley seeking guidance before odds were created:

“Just wanted to get your guidance on the 2 wagers that were placed on the election. Our inclination is to the void them immediately and communicate to the customer in real time. Are you okay with that or do you want us to hold off on that process.”

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Joe Tarzaiski
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Joe Tarzaiski began his sports writing career in 2004 in the Philadelphia market, analyzing and handicapping professional sports, college sports, poker and various table games. He currently reports on the increased efforts on the legalization and continual growth of sports betting throughout the United States. A Philadelphia University alum, Joe is dedicated to following current trends in both the gaming community and daily news throughout the sports world.
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