You can’t legally bet on US presidential election odds in New Jersey, or in any other US state for that matter. People in places like the United Kingdom can legally do so, however, and election betting is big business there.
After last week’s Republican National Convention, the space between the two top candidates for the White House narrowed in legal markets. That might not matter much to most NJ sports betting fans.
But there is a legal way for those in the Garden State to get in on the action in a limited fashion.
GOP convention tightens 2020 presidential election odds
Prior to the Republican Party’s time in the spotlight, the odds on Democratic nominee Joe Biden painted him a stronger favorite. At the end of July, Biden sat around -177 at most UK books.
Meanwhile, the odds of President Donald Trump’s reelection sat at +160.
When the Democrats held their virtual convention, that seemingly only stalled the odds moving in Trump’s favor.
Biden was -145 during the Democratic National Convention, while books slotted Trump at +125. Since the RNC, those odds had moved to -118 on Biden and +100 on Trump, with slight variances from book to book.
The way bettors are staking their claims seems to be a large part of the reason for the movement in these lines. As Election Day approaches, it seems more UK bettors want to put their money down on Trump’s reelection.
In theory, however, these odds could still move by great margins.
Biden and Trump will debate three times between now and Election Day, with Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence slated to face off once.
Right now, it’s hard to predict exactly how those debates will affect election odds.
What’s certain, however, is that DraftKings Sportsbook is offering New Jersey (and anywhere the DraftKings DFS app is available) an opportunity to get into a free contest based on these results.
DraftKings’ free-to-play pool for the 2020 election
Because you don’t have to wager any real money in this contest and there is no entry fee, it’s not gambling and therefore is legal in NJ.
Johnny Avello, DraftKings’ head of sportsbook operations, had the following to say about offering the free presidential pool:
“We offered this before. Our first pool was on the debate. I think we had 70,000 users for that one. This one, we are up to about 26,000 to 27,000 users.
“Obviously, with so much time to go, this looks like it’s going to be one of the bigger ones. If you can’t bet on it, why not do some things with it for fun? Our thinking is you can’t bet on it now, but there is the possibility to bet on it in the future. This is a topic that everybody has an opinion on, of course.”
DraftKings Sportsbook is offering $100,000 in prizes to contestants. The game asks participants to predict the results of the race not only nationwide but also in crucial states such as Colorado and Michigan.
To join the free-to-play presidential pool, log into your DraftKings account or visit the DraftKings DFS app and pick your answers to the 12 election questions by 5 p.m. EST Nov. 3.
- Only one entry per person.
- All races will be determined by AP vote count.
- All prizes will be distributed by 11 a.m. EST Nov. 4.
If there is a tie at the end of the presidential pool, the prize will be split among the contestants in that position. The grand prize is $5,000.
Election betting a no-go in New Jersey
For DraftKings, it’s about more than adding an amusing element to Election Night, however. It’s about growing the customer base.
As Avello pointed out, wagering on the election remains illegal. That means there are many potential DraftKings customers who might bet on the election if they could but whom the company can’t access right now.
Offering this contest on a free-to-play basis enables DraftKings to connect with potential new customers in jurisdictions where the DraftKings Sportsbook app is not yet available.
Once the company has that information, it can start marketing other products to them that are legal in their jurisdictions.
No matter who wins the election on Nov. 3, if the presidential pool adds to DraftKings’ customer base, DraftKings will be a winner as well.
Getty Images / Joaquin Corbalan