Can You Bet on US Politics in Las Vegas?

Statue of Liberty With Casino Chip Background

Certain people find politics to be a fascinating subject. They enjoy listening to debates and rooting for their favored candidates to win at the polls.

Some of these same political enthusiasts even enjoy gambling on the races. As a result, many bookmakers throughout the world offer politics betting.

Is Las Vegas one of the places where you can gamble on politics? I’ll answer this question below along with more on the subject of political gambling.

Nevada Doesn’t Allow Political Betting

Las Vegas is home to the world’s most-lucrative sports betting market. It offers dozens of bookmakers that accept wagers on everything from basketball to ping pong.

You won’t be at a loss for things to wager on in Sin City. However, politics is one of the few things that you can’t gamble on.

The state of Nevada has never approved this type of wagering. They don’t appear likely to do so anytime in the near future either.

The Nevada Gaming Commission received a request to allow politics gambling in 2013. They quickly denied this request.

Since then, no serious push has been made to legalize this form of betting. Nevada stands firm on that they don’t want sportsbooks offering these types of lines.

Why Doesn’t Nevada Approve of US Political Betting?

The Silver State has very good reasons for not approving politics wagering. You can see the gaming regulators’ main issues with the matter below.

Potential Voter Manipulation

Corruption fears have always been a hot topic with regard to sports betting. In fact, these fears kept sports gambling illegal on a federal level for 26 years.

Only when the Supreme Court repealed PASPA did other states outside of Nevada (grandfathered into PASPA) gain the ability to legalize sports wagering.

Nevada has never really concerned itself with sports corruption. After all, they’ve offered sports betting since 1949.

United States Flag on Football Field

However, state officials are worried about voter manipulation if they were to allow political betting. The following two issues can arise with this type of gambling:

  • A person or group could heavily wager on a specific candidate to boost party morale and inspire more people to vote on that candidate.
  • Voters might not visit the polls if their favorite candidate carries long odds of winning.

The “Romney Whale” incident highlights the issues with this problem. In the 2012 US Presidential Election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, somebody bet an estimated $4 million to $7 million on Romney winning.

Academic research speculates that the anonymous gambler was trying to boost Republican morale and make it seem like Romney had a stronger chance of winning.

Regarding the second issue, more people will vote on their preferred candidate if they don’t know the odds ahead of time. But if they see that their favorite is a long shot, they might not feel like there’s a reason to vote.

Unethical

Politics are about people exercising their freedoms to vote. They also encourage people to choose the most-adequate candidates.

Traditionalists don’t feel that gambling has any place in this realm. They want fair races that aren’t tainted by betting odds.

Gambling has gained more acceptances within recent years. However, many still consider it a vice.

Those who already disapprove of gambling are highly unlikely to accept wagering on politics. Nevada candidates who rely on conservative voters aren’t going to push for political gambling.

Bad Precedent

Nearly two dozen states currently offer legal sports betting. However, none of them let their residents or visitors wager on political races.

By regulating this form of gambling, Nevada would be the first to embrace it. They may not want to set this kind of precedent, though.

Of course, the Silver State was the first to legalize casinos and sports betting. Approving politics gambling wouldn’t be entirely crazy when considering their history.

But Nevada also has a thriving gambling industry as it is. They don’t feel the need to approve of such a controversial measure right now.

Has Political Betting Ever Been Legal in the US?

Political gambling may feel like a new fairly new subject. However, it has actually been around since the earliest days of the United States.

This form of wagering has a lengthy history dating back to the early 1800s. Many adults placed wagers on which presidential candidate the thought would win.

By the mid-1800s, many states had banned all forms of gambling. Therefore, wagering on political races or anything else was illegal.

Nevertheless, people continue to bet on politics. Research shows that this gambling has always been prevalent in the US to some degree.

The first state to officially approve politics betting was West Virginia. They did so in April 2020 in what was later deemed to be a “mistake.”

West Virginia was one of the first states to take advantage of sports betting after PASPA was repealed in 2018. Politicians handed oversight over the industry to the West Virginia Lottery.

John Myers, who heads the state’s lottery, gave approval for legal political gambling when responding to a request. FanDuel promptly began offering odds on the 2020 US Presidential Election.

However, WV Secretary of State Mac Warner told Myers that he adamantly disapproves of such gambling. The West Virginia Lottery quickly took political betting off the table and asked FanDuel to stop offering presidential odds.

Will Nevada Ever Change Its Mind?

Outside of a brief occurrence involving West Virginia, no state has ever offered legal political gambling. Will Nevada change their mind on the matter and become the first?

If so, they probably won’t do it anytime within the next 5 to 10 years. The US sports betting market is still fairly young and has lots of potential.

Baseball Player Standing in Front of United States Flag

Unlike the UK, which does allow politics betting, the US features a sports wagering market that’s only a few years old. American bookmakers will continue to milk staple sports, like baseball, basketball, and football, as long as they’re highly profitable.

As the betting market matures, though, it will likely become saturated. This is exactly what has happened with the UK, which began offering legal sports betting in 1961.

This country allows gambling on pretty much anything from politics to entertainment. Nevada and other American states may feel the urge to follow suit as more and more bookmakers crowd the US market.

For now, though, Nevada still doesn’t need this sort of wagering. The Silver State still makes more than enough money off sports betting.

Where Can You Bet on Politics in the Meantime?

If you’re an American, you currently don’t have any regulated options for gambling on politics. But you do possibly have some routes for enjoying it.

First off, plenty of offshore bookmakers still serve the US. They operate in states with grey markets that haven’t legalized sports betting.

The same bookmakers don’t operate by American laws. Instead, they’re based in locations, like Belize or Costa Rica, where they deal with little oversight.

Offshore sportsbooks have been offering political gambling for years. They feature odds on the US Presidential Election and other notable races.

Assuming you live in a grey market, you can easily access unregulated bookmakers. You may even be able to do so if you live in a regulated state, such as New Jersey or Indiana.

I’m not encouraging you to break any laws within your jurisdiction. I’m merely pointing out how easily accessible political gambling is across most of America.

Another option involves visiting a country that does allow wagering on politics. The UK has the most robust number of political lines.

Of course, you’re unlikely to fly across the Atlantic Ocean just to bet on who will be the next president or governor of California. But the option is available if you’re ever in the UK.

Conclusion

Las Vegas features the largest selection of sportsbooks and odds in one place. However, they don’t offer politics betting.

The Nevada Gaming Commission has yet to approve this kind of gambling. They rejected the only request they’ve received on the matter in 2013.

No recent news indicates that the Silver State will change their mind anytime soon. No other states have regulated political gambling either.

Attitudes may change in another decade. But for the current time, you won’t be able to enjoy legal political gambling in Las Vegas or any other US location.