Deep Dive: How To Bet on The Presidential Election

Betting on Hilary, better on Jeb
Written by Tom Ewing

U.S. law forbids online gambling, but many Americans have figured out how to bet on the presidential election. Here’s how they’re doing it.

aNewDomain — Gamble $1,000 on U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s presidential election campaign, and you might find yourself $150,000 richer on Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the U.S. presidential election. Love him or loathe him, the South Carolina senator might help you buy your first Ferrari.

how to bet on the presidential electionGambling on U.S. presidential elections has a long and colorful past. In the good old days, American gamblers bet huge sums on each presidential election. Most states have since banned such betting, and federal law prohibits and does its best to quash betting online. But the practice nonetheless continues today in online gambling houses located outside the United States — and it accounts for millions in betting transactions.

U.S. billionaires are already betting on the 2016 presidential election — with their dollars. If you think the Republicans will win, you’re probably buying options on as many defense and energy stocks as your portfolio can handle. If you think the Democrats will win, you’re buying options on alternative energy and biotechnology stocks.

But you don’t have to be a billionaire or an expat to profit from the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Even ordinary folks can get in on the action. Here’s how Americans like you have figured out how to bet on the presidential election.

The Best Odds on The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

You’re not likely to profit much from betting on Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush. They’re the favorites.

Clinton not only leads in public opinion polls, but she also leads in all on-line gambling sites that we reviewed. Jeb Bush’s odds were similarly not good; well, not good if you’re hoping to profit from a wager.

Lindsey Graham seems to be your best bet online, paying out 150-to-1 on the Brovada website. Graham is only paying out 33-to-1 on the Ladbrokes website. Americans are slightly more likely to place a bet with Brovada than with Ladbrokes, which might be an indication that the future doesn’t bode well for the Graham campaign. But if you take the bet, you could be all the happier.

How to bet on Brovada? You just need an international form of payment.

Online Gambling Odds Right Now

Bookies maintain a book of bets, bets where the odds ratios always balance after they’ve taken a small cut. Looking at the odds quoted by online bookies gives a glimmer of where people have been willing to wager their own cash so far.

Below are the odds presently quoted by Ladbrokes, the largest legal online gambling house in the United Kingdom:

how to bet on the presidential election

Ladbrokes is a huge European betting institution. In addition to an online gambling presence, it also has about 2,400 brick and mortar betting shops in the U.K., Ireland, Belgium and Spain. Ladbrokes won’t accept online users with U.S. or Canadian addresses. But if you’re American with an address elsewhere, you’re unlikely to run into problems when you try to place a bet with Ladbrokes or any of the other European-based gambling sites out there.

As mentioned above, the gambling site Brovada lets Americans place bets, it says, on “sporting events, including presidential elections.” The bets need to be placed with an international rather than U.S. domestic form of payment — like, say, an international gift card.

Here is Brovada’s present book for the 2016 U.S. presidential election:

how the bet on the presidential elections

Most of the online websites I examined also let punters place bets on the winner of the Democratic and Republican primaries.

Again, you’re not likely to win as much by betting on Hillary or Jeb. But if Scott Walker snatches the GOP nomination, you’ll be rolling in it. At this writing, anyway.

Similarly, if Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee is your best guess for the Democratic nominee, a $1,000 bet with Ladbrokes would pay out $66,000. Not bad.

Betting on Hilary, betting on Jeb

Betting on Presidential Elections And Specialty Elections, Too

Irish gambling site Paddy Power not only offers the main race for your gambling pleasure, it also posts odds and pays off on various specialty elections. For instance, you can place a $1,000 bet on Jim Webb for the Iowa caucus. If he wins, you might find yourself $66,000 richer.

Here are Paddy Power’s odds for the Iowa Caucus:

Betting on Hilary, Betting on Jeb

Online presidential betting also tells you a lot about the political parties themselves.

Paddy Power lets gamblers bet on the gender balance of each political party’s 2016 lineup. So, Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee, for example would be a female-male pair. Paddy Power gives that gender mix 10-to-1 odds for the GOP. A female-female pair of Republicans is 100-to-1 on Paddy Power. For the Democrats, the odds of a female-male pair is 1-to-6, and a female-female pair is 7-to-1. Basically, for the Dems, it’s Hillary plus someone else.

how to bet on the presidential election

Futures Trading Is Another Way to Bet on The Presidential Election

Futures trading is an alternative to online betting. The Iowa Electronics Market provides a futures market in U.S. monetary policy and presidential elections. The University of Iowa runs that site, which is intended as a pedagogical tool for students.

Unlike online betting shops, the Iowa Electronics Market lets you legally bet between $5 and $500, even if you’re a U.S. resident.

Editor: aNewDomain is not advising American citizens to break U.S. law and gamble online, on presidential elections or anything else. Proceed with caution.

For aNewDomain, I’m Tom Ewing.

Image credits

Cover image:Horse racing (3309211069)” by PaulHorse racing. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons; roulette wheel:; screenshot: Ladbrokes gambling odds on the US presidential election; screenshot: Brovada odds on the US presidential election; screenshot: Ladbrokes odds on the US Democratic presidential nominee; screenshot: Paddy Power Iowa Caucus; screenshot: Paddy Power GOP gender mix, screen shot of company website. All screenshots: Tom Ewing for aNewDomain.