The first attempt to get election betting off the ground in the US fell flat on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, FanDuel Sportsbook said it had received approval from the West Virginia Lottery to offer presidential election betting, but two hours after the announcement, FanDuel pulled the market.
On Tuesday FanDuel Sportsbook released a press statement announcing it had received approval from the state’s regulator to exclusively offer political betting in the state of West Virginia.
Two hours after the announcement, FanDuel removed the markets from its online sports betting platform.
A FanDuel spokesperson provided the following statement to Compare.bet via email: “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.”
FanDuel’s initial announcement
In an earlier press release, FanDuel announced it would begin accepting bets on the 2020 US presidential election on Tuesday. The press release specified that FanDuel would offer betting on national elections as “local or state elections are not permitted.”
FanDuel revealed it would be taking bets on Winner of the 2020 Election, the Democratic Nomination, Democratic Vice-Presidential Nomination, Presidential Election 2020 – Winning Party and State by State Winning Party.
This would have marked the first time a legal and regulated US sportsbook was able to offer election betting. However, at around 8:30 pm ET, FanDuel customers began to report that the election odd’s were taken down.
Is it legal to bet on elections in WV?
It is not entirely clear whether state law permits residents to place wagers on presidential elections in the US. However, a passage in the West Virginia regulations appears to prohibit the activity of wagering on an election.
According to the state regulations, “It shall be unlawful to bet or wager money or other thing of value on any election held in this state. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, he shall forfeit the value of the money or thing so bet or wagered and shall be fined not more than $50.”
West Virginia’s code defines an election as “every general, primary or special election held in this state, or in any of its subdivisions, for the purpose of nominating or electing federal or state officers…” which implies that wagering on the 2020 presidential election is unlawful in the state.