Gambling on the presidential debate gains popularity

"We're drawn to conflict" according to one professor of gambling studies, who said people like the absolute and the political theater of events like the debate.
Debate stage on Thursday where President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump were to debate on CNN
Posted at 7:12 PM, Jun 27, 2024

As astonishing as it may sound to some, gambling on the presidential debate in the United States appeared to be gaining significant popularity thanks to the growth of online gambling platforms that allow betting on a plethora of topics.

The site BetUS laid out a number of different odds on the debate including on viewership, the first topic that will be debated and even which state will be mentioned first by the candidates.

With odds, a negative score means it's more likely to happen and a positive score means it's less happen to happen. For example, the site BetUS put viewership for the debates at over 80.5 million with odds of +110 and under 80.5 million with odds of -150.

There are even opportunities for some to bet on what type of tie the candidates might wear.

While betting on politics is not legal in any U.S. state, the internet has allowed people in countries where it is allowed to play their odds on various aspects of U.S. politics.

Dr. Timothy Fong, Co-Director of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program, said our society loves the drama and conflict.

"The fervor of this particular election cycle ... is because there is so much at stake," Fong said. "These are two men who are at complete opposites and if you think about just the narrative that has been highlighted by our society, we're drawn to fight, we're drawn to conflict."

Fong said we're drawn to the "absolute." He said that is what these debates have become: Political theater, and "much more so over the last 20 years."

Experts studying this phenomenon say gambling on politics may seem light on the surface, but that it could have serious implications for the advancement of political discourse.