In Europe, it’s known as novelty betting. Bookmakers from Paddy Power to William Hill post odds and take bets on a variety of activities, from who looks good to win the Nobel Prizes this year to whether Prince Harry’s next girlfriend will be a blonde or a brunette and who might host the Oscars in 2014. Paddy Power’s favorite to host the Oscar’s next year is Justin Timberlake at 2-to-1 . The odds are 8-to-11 that Harry’s next girlfriend will be a blonde. But what produces increased publicity if only modest handle for British bookmakers is betting on U.S. politics. And oddsmakers and gambling industry analysts in Las Vegas said that if successful, a Nevada state senator’s efforts to legalize betting on politics will produce more notoriety than revenue. The state Senate Finance Committee on Monday introduced Senate Bill 418, which would allow betting on federal elections in Nevada casinos. Chairman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said Nevada is missing out on millions of dollars by not allowing betting on presidential and federal elections. He also said he sees nothing wrong about adding the Academy Awards to the list of events for betting.
The Nevada Gaming Commission regulations prohibit betting on any election, but a January 2011 amendment allows betting on nonsporting events, if approved by the commission and the Legislature. “We bet on everything else,” said Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas. If it is going to bring money to the state, it should be considered. We need money for education.”
Paddy Power took in more than $1.6 million in wagers on the 2012 election; William Hill declined to disclose its election revenue. “I think betting on elections is a good idea,” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill U.S. “Wagering on U.S. elections is popular in the United Kingdom, so obviously it will be popular here if done right. When I was in London last fall, I bet on our presidential elections.”