Nevada Senate Committee Rejects Presidential Prop Bets at Las Vegas Sportsbooks
The Nevada Senate this week rejected a proposal which would have allowed proposition bets on federal elections. On Wednesday, the Committee to Conduct an Interim Study Concerning the Impact of Technology Upon Gaming rejected an election betting proposal.
The next time such a proposal will be eligible for debate in 2015. The idea was raised by State Senator Tick Segerblom, who believed Nevada should have allowed wagers on the outcome of all federal elections, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Segerblom sought to have a similar bill passed in 2013.
Proposition Bets – Political Picks
The reason the state senator cited for supporting such betting is the example of Great Britain. The government of the UK allows wagers on the US presidential election. Those sportsbooks which have offered such prop bets have done particularly well on them. For example, Ladbrokes took nearly $2 million in wagers on the 2012 presidential election, won by Barack Obama.
Despite being more than two and a half years away from the next presidential election, Ladbrokes has odds on the race. At present, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a 6-to-4 favorite to be the next U.S. president. The next nearest candidates are Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who have 12-to-1 odds. Hollywood actor George Clooney is listed as a 200-to-1 dark horse candidate.
UK Sportsbooks’ Prop Bets
Such wagers might seem comical at first glance, but proposition bets are a major draw at many sportsbooks. Each year, the Super Bowl prop bets are a major reason Las Vegas bookmakers can expect over $100 million in wagers. Such prop bets allow someone to wager on who will score the first touchdown, how long the national anthem is, or what type of clothing the halftime performer wears.
Proposition bets are a favorite in the United Kingdom. UK sportsbooks are known to post celebrity wagers, bets involving the royal family, and hypothetical bets on the outcome of reality TV shows. In some cases, wagers push the envelope, such as those involving whether an alien spacecraft will touch down in the next year (and where) or whether a meteor crashes into the Earth and civilization falls.
Nevada Politicians See Politics As Off-Limits
The Nevada Senate committee appears to view a wager on a presidential election as unworthy. While it is easy to scoff at such bets as sideshows, the concept is no different than wagering on a sporting event.
Beating the Odds – US Presidential Politics
People with knowledge of the United States’ electoral system should be able to make educated guesses on the possible candidates. For instance, they might know that the favorites heading into the primary process often are not the eventual winners. The favorite becomes the target of scrutiny by the media. More importantly, their political enemies in the opposite party and their political rivals in their own party make them the target of attacks.
Hillary Clinton: An Example
For instance, Hillary Clinton was the clear favorite in the 2008 nomination process. After months of her Democratic rivals trying to close the distance, a relatively unknown Barack Obama overtook her in the primaries and eventually won the presidency. In 2004, Howard Dean was seen as the prohibitive favorite, but the other candidates took shots at him leading up to the Iowa Caucus. When Dean had his infamous screech during a post-caucus speech in Iowa, he was seen as damaged goods. The Democrats nominated John Kerry instead, because he was seen as stabler.
Chris Christie – Early Favorite
The trend goes back much further, but it has already begun in this election cycle. Governor Chris Christie is seen as the favorite among GOP candidates, but only because he has a higher profile than many of his rivals. Those rivals have taken shots at Gov. Christie, while scandal bred by greater scrutiny has tarnished his image.
As a moderate Republican, Chris Christie was going to have trouble gaining the nomination in a GOP political climate increasingly influenced by the Tea Party. Rank and file Republicans in 2014 have heard for six years how Barack Obama is bringing socialism to the country–and how socialism is bad–so the Republicans are in no mood to hear about a moderate Republican from a liberal state like New Jersey. Given his frontrunner status, Christie faces long odds of securing the nomination–though he might be popular in the general election.
Sometimes, the favorite does win, of course. The sense of inevitability and a consensus that someone deserves the nomination wins out. For certain candidates, biding ones time and paying the dues does work. When John McCain won the Republican nomination in 2008, he had run for president before and was seen as a man who had paid his dues, despite being seen as too moderate by many GOP voters. In 1996, Senator Bob Dole won the GOP nomination for many of the same reasons. Bob Dole was seen as a steady Republican voice who deserved his shot at the presidency.
Under such circumstances, Hillary Clinton might secure the nomination for the Democrats in 2016. She has faced enough criticism over the past 25 years that voters might resent a new round of attacks–or she might be immune to her opponents going negative (at least with Democratic voters). Democrats may feel like Hillary Clinton has served her time and faced her disappointments, so 2016 is the time to give her a shot. But newer, fresher challengers are likely to stand in her way. If the attacks find their mark, one of these might be seen as a viable alternative, catching lightning in the bottle like Barack Obama. Given Obama’s relative inexperience entering office, voters might prefer an experienced Hillary Clinton over a political neophyte.
The attacks have started on Clinton, though. The Bhengazi Tragedy is discussed nightly on FoxNews, where Sean Hannity makes it a part of his program. Conservative writers discuss it in their articles and op-ed pieces often. Such pieces may have little effect on the Democrats nomination process, but they might find traction with independents in the general election.
Gamblers must take such considerations into account when making a bet on a political candidate. A politician being nominated is only half of the battle–that politician must appeal to moderates, along with their own party members. In the case of Dole and McCain–other long time voices who waited their turn–neither won the general election. Presidential prop betters have to figure out whether Hillary Clinton could win the national election, which is hard to do when the list of candidates still is not full.
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