BOSTON – Betting on most sporting events is now legal in Massachusetts. But what about betting on politics, one of our state’s most popular spectator sports? Could this be the next frontier in legalized gambling?
Technically, it’s still not legal in the US. But you can already bet on politics in Canada and overseas markets, so it might just be a matter of time before we do it here. And consider the richness of the material we have to deal with.
The general election in Massachusetts is not very contested these days. Picking the Republican candidate to win is like betting on the No. 16 seed beating the No. 1 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. But party primaries sometimes offer a competitive field, and betting on those could get more attention than they already garner.
Primary elections in New Hampshire are held every four years. Despite President Biden’s recent push to remove the Granite State’s national No. 1 status, New Hampshire law says they must go first, even if it means bringing it up until next summer. I’d put the odds at two to one that the media will still show up in droves; after all, they’re doing it for the Iowa State Fair vote. But if New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu runs and makes the primary moot because he’s the favorite son, the media turnout will be three to one.
Imagine betting on whether the Massachusetts legislature can pass a budget by the constitutionally mandated June 30 deadline. It hasn’t happened in eight years in a row, so I’m going to make the early game 10-1.
It’s an interesting bet involving Gov. Mora Healy, who you probably know by now as a former point guard. In any one of Healy’s presentations, how many times will she draw an analogy between her job and basketball? I’m setting the large/small to 3 for now, but maybe she’ll get tired of it.
How likely is this fantasy to become a reality? With more than $300 million wagered on the 2020 Biden-Trump matchup at one UK sportsbook alone, there is clearly a lot of money to be made in political betting. You know what they say about money in American politics – it talks and everything else walks.
But there’s a question (if that’s not an oxymoron) about the integrity of political betting that needs to be answered: How are you going to prevent politicians from doing or saying stupid things to slash points or throw elections outright?
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