On Tuesday night, West Virginia shocked the betting markets by announcing that they had legalized betting on politics.
Quickly, FanDuel posted odds on important U.S. elections such as the upcoming presidential contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, but 15 minutes after the odds were posted, the state ordered the betting company to stop taking action.
In a statement by FanDuel, moments after the election odds were taken down from their site, the bookmaker said:
“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.”
After the election action was stopped, FanDuel refunded all bets made in the 15-minute window to bettors, leaving everyone in the sports betting market wondering why the company had jumped the gun.
West Virginia Lottery runs the betting in the state and has the authority to legalize wagering on political races. After being asked by bookmakers to legalize election betting, word leaked midday on Tuesday that permission had been granted.
FanDuel soon alerted customers and the media that they would have odds on several election races on their site by Tuesday afternoon.
The site posted odds on the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Joe Biden’s eventual running mate selection and which party would win the presidential race.
FanDuel’s odds showed Donald Trump as the favorite at -110, with Biden at +125 in the race for president.
The odds would have certainly been adjusted further once Bernie Sanders, the chief competition against Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination, dropped out of the race Wednesday morning after declaring there is no path to victory.
If West Virginia had been able to offer political betting, the entire betting market in the United States would have been thrown a lifeline in an era of no sports.
Of course, each state would have to approve of election betting first, but without regular sporting events, sportsbooks around the country would seize on the opportunity to offer wagering action on the anticipated race for the White House.
On Wednesday morning, after almost 24 hours of confusion, the West Virginia Secretary of State, Mac Warner released a statement to the media, declaring that betting on politics would remain illegal in the state.
Warner, an outspoken anti-betting official, put a hold on the excitement with a denunciation of Tuesday’s announcement as his office said that someone in the state’s Lottery office jumped the gun.
“Gambling on elections has been illegal in West Virginia since 1868. Gambling on the outcome of an election has no place in our American democracy. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. This is a terrible idea. Let’s shut this down right now and be very clear about it,” said Warner.
It is doubtful that any state in America will offer election betting this year, although many countries overseas allow betting on political races, including the 2020 presidential election.
West Virginia has seven casinos around the state with over 4,800 slot and table machines, plus close to 220 table games.
DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM have partnerships with casinos in West Virginia.
There are five casinos in West Virginia that have in-person betting.
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