Tag Archive : Political

New Details Emerge on West Virginia Political Betting Fiasco

FanDuel was not the only betting operator to receive the green light from the West Virginia Lottery to offer political betting, according to emails obtained by The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register.

According to said emails, the Lottery approved betting on political events on April 7 for FanDuel and BetMGM, which operate in West Virginia through a partnership with The Greenbrier resort, and for DraftKings, which operates in the state through a partnership with Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

Last Tuesday, FanDuel briefly offered to its West Virginia customers the opportunity to place wagers on the upcoming US presidential election. However, the operator was told to pull its election markets just a few hours after these were rolled out.

On the next day, April 8, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, whose family owns The Greenbrier, decried the authorization of political betting, calling the move “ridiculous”, “ludicrous”, and “humorous.”

Timeline of the Events Leading Up to the Short Life of Political Betting in WV

According to emails obtained by The Intelligencer, Erich Zimny, Vice President of Racing and Sports Operations at Hollywood Casino, sent a proposal for elections betting to the Lottery. Mr. Zimny wrote that the gambling venue and its betting partner, DraftKings, “would like to explore the possibility of offering political props on major election markets.”

The casino official’s email to the agency went on that they all understood the Lottery has bees treading lightly on political betting so far and that this would be new ground for everyone involved, but in the struggle for markets to bet into these days, we’re looking for what’s out there that could entice some interest.”

Political betting is legal across many European markets as well as in Canada, but US regulators and lawmakers have been extremely cautious on the topic.

DraftKings sought to offer betting on the US presidential election, winners of state presidential primaries, winning political parties nationwide and in each individual state, US Senate and House of Representative races, the over/under on congressional seats, the number of electoral college votes, and voter turnout.

On the afternoon of April 7, David Bradley, the West Virginia Lottery Deputy Director of Security, sent an email to DraftKings Senior Manager for Sportsbook Operations Jake List, saying that at the Lottery, they have been discussing the authorization of wagers for political markets and their restriction to federal political markets and no state or local elections.

Mr. Bradley sent a similar email to John Sheeran, Director of Risk and Trading at FanDuel.

Later that afternoon, DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM all received emails from Mr. Bradley informing that they can move forward with elections betting plans.

By the evening of April 7, FanDuel’s election betting markets were up and running.

FanDuel Ordered to Pull Its Election Markets

After receiving regulatory green light, FanDuel promptly launched its election betting markets. In a press release announcing its new offering, the operator said that they were proud to “have partnered with the West Virginia Lottery to bring these markets into a legal, regulated sportsbook where bettors have appropriate protections.”

FanDuel offered betting on the presidential election winner, the Democratic nominee winner, the Democratic Vice President nominee, and the winning party. However, users of its app noticed that the markets were pulled about two hours after they went live.

In addition, DraftKings and BetMGM both received emails from Mr. Bradley to hold up on elections betting as the Lottery was re-considering its decision.

After pulling its political betting markets, FanDuel released a statement saying that “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.”

Under West Virginia law, betting on any election is illegal. The state Code reads that “it shall be unlawful to bet or wager money or other thing of value on any election held in this state.” People caught wagering on political events face misdemeanor charges and a $50 fine.

The Director of the West Virginia Lottery, John Myers, took the blame for authorizing elections betting, even though the practice is prohibited under state law. The Lottery official said that he thought “it would be okay, but after review, it was clearly a mistake.”

Mr. Myers went on to say that they “just screwed up” and that he did not have the authority to do it and he apologized to everyone affected.

Source: Emails Reveal W.Va. Lottery Approved, Then Backtracked on Elections Betting

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West Virginia Could Legalize Betting on Political Events

West Virginia could become the first state to allow its sportsbooks to take bets on political events after FanDuel briefly offered odds on the upcoming presidential election Tuesday night.

The sports betting operator had the odds up for about 15 minutes after posting them but then took them down entirely and removed the Politics tab from its West Virginia site and betting app.

In a press release earlier on Tuesday, FanDuel said that it would begin taking wagers on the presidential election and that it has partnered with the West Virginia Lottery to “bring these markets into a legal, regulated sportsbook.”

However, after pulling the odds down, the company issued a follow-up statement saying that while the markets were initially approved by the West Virginia Lottery, the agency has asked FanDuel to “refrain from offering the markets” until the Lottery has time to “fully work through the implications and research it further.”

The Lottery issued a similar statement shortly after the operator’s hit the wire.

West Virginia legalized sports betting in the spring of 2018, even before the US Supreme Court struck down a long-standing federal ban on the practice in May of the same year.

FanDuel operates a small sportsbook inside The Casino Club at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs. In addition, the company launched a digital wagering product in West Virginia in the summer of 2019.

Could Political Betting Become a Thing in US?

As mentioned above, West Virginia could be poised to become the first state in the US to permit betting on political events. However, if the state indeed goes forward with this plan, this raises a series of questions, including ones related to the legality of offering odds on elections.

The federal Commodity Trading Commission has previously said that gambling on elections should not be authorized.

In addition, betting on political events seems to be prohibited under West Virginia law. The state Code reads “it shall be unlawful to bet or wager money or other thing of value on any election held in this state.”

In a strange time when global sport is almost entirely canceled, gambling operators are working closely with regulators in states where betting is legal on what other wagering markets they can offer to their customers.

eSports has become a particularly popular option as multiple competitions are under way. Operators are also suggesting other options, including betting on reality shows.

During the very brief period West Virginia bettors were able to place wagers on the presidential election, FanDuel offered odds on the presidential election winner, the Democratic nominee winner, the Democratic Vice President nominee, and the winning party.

The company said it accepted more than one bet and that it has promptly returned the money wagered by those of its customers who managed to place bets on the upcoming presidential election.

While FanDuel appears to be ready to resume taking wagers on political events as soon as the West Virginia Lottery permits this, its rival DraftKings is taking a more cautious approach toward the opportunity to expand its offering beyond sports.

The company said Tuesday that while they are “excited about the possibility of offering odds on politics and elections to our customers in West Virginia, we are taking the time to ensure we evaluate the opportunity thoroughly before posting any lines.”

Source: West Virginia Poised to Become First State to Allow Political Gambling

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