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How to Bet on Politics: Everything You Need to Get Started

Kaela Napier

by Kaela Napier

Updated Feb 16, 2021 · 12:51 PM PST

Betting on politics is a subject nearly as complex as politics themselves. No doubt, interest in political betting is sharply on the rise as politics increasingly dominate both the broader media landscape and everyday conversations.

These days, election odds and the way people bet on key races is even used by political scientists and pundits in their attempts to predict the outcome of key races and elections.

This guide covers everything you need to know about betting on politics and elections.

Is Betting on Politics Legal in the United States?

Many sportsbooks licensed around the globe offer the opportunity to wager on election outcomes. However, no legal sportsbooks licensed in the United States are currently allowed to offer odds on politics. When it comes to the American market, the election odds you see on SportsBettingDime.com are for entertainment purposes only.

The regulation of all betting-related matters in the US is left up to individual states. In theory, any state could eventually authorize betting on election outcomes or other political developments. That said, it seems unlikely that state regulators will embrace political betting outright. There’s simply no appetite for anything that could call the integrity of elections into question, and antiquated perceptions of gambling are never far from the mind of a certain subsection of politicians and rule-makers.

Political prediction markets work a bit differently than traditional sportsbooks, but they do offer a legal option for Americans wondering how they can bet on politics.  Luckily, would-be political bettors in many other countries around the globe are free to wager on the next President or other major political developments directly at their online sportsbook.

Types of Political Betting

There are two main ways to bet on politics: prediction markets and online sportsbooks. Learn more about each of them below.

1. Try Prediction Markets

Prediction markets pose “yes” or “no” questions to traders, such as:

  • Will Donald Trump run for President of the United States in 2024?
  • Will Tucker Carlson announce his candidacy for President?
  • Will Michelle Obama become the first female president in 2024?

Traders buy “yes” or “no” shares related to each proposition. Just like the stock market, the value of these shares shifts with supply and demand. If your predicted outcome happens, the futures market will pay 100 cents on the dollar, and zero if it does not.

Prediction markets have long been allowed in the US, in part for the valuable insights they provide to social scientists. As traders buy and sell shares, researchers gain insight into public perception of candidates and the events surrounding them. People buy shares according to their expectation of what will actually occur, not just what they want to happen. As a result, prediction markets provide real-time insight into how campaigns are performing over time.

2.  Betting on Politics at Your Online Sportsbook

Many bettors outside the United States have the option of wagering directly on election outcomes and other political events at their sportsbook of choice.

Political props at the sportsbook look much the same as other props you’ll see related to sports and entertainment.

Here are some common political prop bets you can expect to see:

Odds to Win the 2024 Republican/Democratic Presidential Primary

This prop asks you to select the eventual nominees for either the Republican or Democratic ticket for the 2024 presidential election. It can be advantageous to put your bets in early on this prop,  as more options in the field lead to longer odds and a potentially higher payout if you make the right call. Whenever you place your bets, remember that the money you wager will be tied up until the outcome is decided.

Odds to Win the 2024 Presidential Election

As the name suggests, this prop concerns the overall winner of the 2024 election. Most sportsbooks list individual candidates, but may also have spin-off props like:

  • Which party will win the 2024 Presidential Election?
  • Will a man or woman win the 2024 Presidential Election?

Odds to Win the Popular Vote

Betting lines on the popular vote typically appear one or two months out from Election Day. Though the popular vote does not determine the actual results of US presidential elections, there is generally a lot of talk surrounding who wins.

Odds to Win a Specific State

The truth of American elections is that some states are far more important than others. Expect to see betting lines as to who will win key swing states start surfacing early on in electoral races. Winning a swing state can make or break a campaign for candidates, so this type of line can be a particularly exciting one to bet on.

Odds on Candidate Antics

Many sportsbooks also offer props on candidates doing certain things; this past cycle, you could find odds on how many times Donald Trump would say certain phrases during the debates.

Get Started with Political Betting

If you’ve never placed a bet before, our betting guides are a great place to get started.

The process is not nearly as intimidating as all the numbers and symbols make it appear, and political betting can be an exciting (and potentially lucrative) way to put your knowledge to the test. Of course, you’ll need to limit yourself to betting at political prediction markets if you live in the United States.

Of course, you’ll want to perform enough research to make an informed wager whenever you put money on the line. There’s no shortage of punditry and opinion out there when it comes to predicting election outcomes, so take the time to carefully filter information and try to cut through the noise.

Naturally, it pays to keep your own political leanings out of things when betting on politics. Bet with your head, not with your heart!

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