For a brief period this week, Arizona sports betting customers had a chance to bet on the 2024 presidential election.
A spokesperson with the Arizona Department of Gaming confirmed Wednesday that the 2024 election “who will win” wager was added to the approved AZ sports betting catalog Monday and taken down. ADG staff is working with operators to determine if any sportsbooks accepted any bets; if so, the regulatory agency will require sportsbooks to cancel and refund those wagers.
“The wager-type has been removed from the catalog and the department is conducting an internal review over the incident,” ADG spokesperson Max Hartgraves told LSR, adding election wagers are prohibited in Arizona sports betting regulations.
Election betting a no-no in US
Regulators across US sports betting have kept elections off the menu, often with explicit legislative language. Along with this Arizona slip-up, West Virginia briefly approved betting on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. It was pulled after two hours.
“The principal obstacle for wagering on elections in the United States rests at the state level. While some argue that legalized wagering on elections may spur voter turnout, others see it as against the public interest,” LSR legal expert John Holden wrote in 2020.
Sportsbooks in Ontario can offer US presidential betting, with DraftKings launching its initial odds last summer.
Putting Desert Diamond out front
At least one sportsbook pushed for the addition of 2024 presidential election betting: Desert Diamond. Greg Gorla, Desert Diamond director of mobile sportsbook operations, told LSR he petitioned for election wagering last year and this month.
When working at the Wynn Sportsbook in Las Vegas a decade ago, Gorla said he remembers offering odds, but not taking bets, on elections for entertainment purposes. Recognizing the difficulty of competing against industry giants as a sportsbook in just one market, Gorla took a chance and asked for the election market in Arizona.
“It was a fun 48 hours,” Gorla said. “We took a shot, we didn’t get any bets, but we would have had to refund them anyway. We’re just trying to do things to be different and find a way. It’s hard to compete against the big boys in many states and seemingly have a limitless bankroll.”
Desert Diamond took $5 million in wagers during October, according to the most recent ADG revenue report. DraftKings led the market with $214.7 million in bets, while FanDuel‘s mobile handle reached $194.2 million.
Kambi connections helped in Arizona
Gorla said Desert Diamond’s technology provider Kambi helped with experience in the election betting department. Kambi works in European markets that do offer the election markets, he said.
“We’re a small book, and we’re doing what we can do to compete in the marketplace,” Gorla said.
Other Kambi sportsbooks also posted the presidential odds in Arizona, including Unibet and BetRivers, according to Gorla.