US Elections Betting Must Remain Legal

Published April 11, 2012 by OCR Editor

US Elections Betting Must Remain Legal

American regulators have ruled Chicago exchange can’t offer contracts tied to election results.

The question of online gambling raised its head once again in the United States this week, when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission sited "the public interest" in barring a Chicago exchange from offering futures contracts tied to the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Elections.

This decision forces us to ask the questions: What exactly is the public interest, and when is any futures contract - whether on the result of an election or any other event - not similar to gambling?

Election Betting Must Remain Legal

As Bloomberg pointed out in its defense of elections futures, these contracts are tools that allow farmers to hedge at the beginning of the season on what their corn crop will be worth come the end, or for airlines to place a hedge on the rising cost of jet fuel. In both these cases, someone has to place an opposing bet, meaning that while in some ways this is speculation, it is also technically gambling.

It said the CFTC's reasoning didn't add up in other ways. Although it allowed political events contracts to trade at an Iowa exchange and to trade offshore through Ireland, it did not accept the Chicago exchange's argument that corporations might want to hedge against a possible tax increase if President Barack Obama won a second term.

The CFTC's decision seems all the more hypocritical, Bloomberg pointed out, when taking into account that it now allows trading of weather contracts tied to the amount of snowfall or the severity of the hurricane season. These futures trades are akin to gambling on the weather, and are allowed - therefore the elections futures contracts should be permitted too.

2012 US Presidential Elections Betting

The good news for online gamblers living in legal jurisdictions is that Internet bookmakers are offering plenty of odds on the 2012 US Presidential Elections. William Hill, 888sports, bet365 and others are all offering presidential odds involving Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney, as well as specials on vice-presidential candidates and other scenarios.

William Hill has Obama at 2/5 to win the presidential election, ahead of Romney, 7/4. Other candidates are still listed, just in case there is a surprise, beginning with Santorum, 33/1, Ron Paul, 50/1, Jeb Bush, 66/1, Hillary Clinton, 125/1, Newt Gingrich, 150/1, and former VP candidate Sarah Palin, 250/1.

See also

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