Election Betting Still Not Exactly Legal In U.S., But PredictIt Odds Swinging Biden’s Way As Trump Trial Begins

Eric Raskin

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As former President Donald Trump’s first of four possible criminal trials gets underway in New York Monday, the odds at one site in the U.S. that permits a form of election betting see him losing ground in his effort to become president again (and potentially make his legal problems go away).

From Feb. 8 through March 15, the odds at PredictIt.org, a site where users can trade shares, stock-market-style, in election outcomes, favored Trump over incumbent President Joe Biden. But the two candidates ran about even for the entire second half of March, and since the start of April, Biden has become the favorite and Trump the underdog, by gradually widening margins.

At 1 p.m. ET Monday, Biden was priced at 53 cents on PredictIt, meaning one share of him to retain the presidency after November’s election costs 53 cents and would be worth a dollar if he wins and nothing if he loses. That’s the equivalent of -112 odds at a traditional U.S. sportsbook.

Trump was priced at the same time at 46 cents, equal to +117 odds.

Meanwhile, third-party candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. sat at 5 cents (+1900), while Vice President Kamala Harris and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, each theoretical Democrat nominees if Biden should drop out of the race, were at 3 cents (+3233).

Party vs. party, the Democrats were at 57 cents (-133) and the Republicans at 45 cents (+122) — revealing a slight market inefficiency in “betting” on Trump at 46 cents when a user could have any Republican for one penny less.

PredictIt odds not entirely representative

These odds paint a different picture than the latest polls, which mostly have Biden closing the gap but not taking the lead. The latest New York Times/Siena poll, based on polling between April 7-11, shows Trump ahead by 1 point.

In fact, PredictIt is a slight outlier even among betting markets. Election betting is legal in the U.K., and at BetMGM’s U.K. site, Trump is a 19/20 (-105 equivalent) favorite, while Biden is a 6/5 (+120) underdog — similar to where PredictIt was a little over a month ago. At bet365 in the U.K., both candidates are +110. At DraftKings in Canada, Trump is +100 (even money), while Biden is +110.

Do PredictIt users know something others don’t? Or is there a leftward lean to the site’s user base that is skewing the odds?

Few experts expect Trump’s legal issues to impact his standing with voters — even if convicted of the crime of making “hush money” payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, a Quinnipiac poll shows only 10% of likely Trump voters saying they’d be less likely to vote for him.

The bigger issue shifting some odds in Biden’s direction appears to be reproductive freedom. Even in red states, voters have shown a propensity toward favoring abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, and this issue could be directly on the ballot in such swing states as Arizona and Nevada.

PredictIt in a gray area

For those in the U.S. who want to bet any of these political markets, they’re limited in their options without leaving the country. And PredictIt, which the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is trying to ban (the case is hung up in the courts), has a limit of $850 on any market.

Side note: The odds, where legal, show South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott as the shortest money to be Trump’s running mate, followed by former Democrat Tulsi Gabbard and South Carolina Gov. Kristi Noem.