Political Prop Bets Guide
Post-Election Update (11/4/2020): While the 2020 Presidential election is nearly concluded, you can still wager on several swing state odds where the votes haven't been fully counted. Additionally, given the upcoming recounts and court challenges that are sure to surface in the following weeks, you will have plenty of related political props to choose from at the best legal online sportsbooks offering election betting lines. Stay tuned, and keep betting!
Betting on United States politics is as old as the country’s founding in 1776, and midterm, primary and presidential election odds have often drawn the most action from people who want to bet on 2020 presidential candidates they believe will win at the ballot box.
Recently, proposition wagers or “prop bets” on political events have become increasingly popular as betting sites and prediction markets look to provide odds and lines during the two-year drought in the time between major elections.
Some political prop bet examples include: Will President Donald Trump be impeached? How many times will Trump tweet this week? Which Democratic candidate will get the most speaking time at the debate? If you think you know the answers to any of these, then you’re halfway to making a profit from things politicians say or do—the other half is voting on where you’ll place the winning wager.
Is It Legal To Bet On Political Events?
Yes, betting on politics is legal in the United States, and this applies to all political events. There is no state or federal gambling laws that prohibit you from using political betting sites in other jurisdictions for wagering money on prop bets, trading on prediction markets, or betting on the 2020 presidential election odds.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was repealed by the US Supreme Court on May 14, 2018, and paved the way for states to legalize sports betting. While many states now offer licensed and regulated sportsbooks, no one inside the US can offer prop betting odds on politics.
However, some experts believe that too will one day change, especially as more people become less interested in what archaic polls and pundits have to say and more engaged with how the public is betting on a particular candidate. For now, here are the best sites to place money on prop bets legally.
Best Political Prop Betting Sites
Political Props: Sportsbooks & Prediction Markets Explained
Online sportsbooks and prediction markets are the two ways to bet on political props and events legally. Here’s a breakdown of how both list prop odds and some of their pros and cons.
Online sportsbooks, such as Bovada or BetOnline, regularly offer political prop bets alongside their offerings for election futures. Similar to betting lines for sports, prop bets on politics can be in the form of money line, over/under, and even a point spread (which will typically be something like a margin of victory in a specific state).
Betting on political props at a sportsbook requires you to wager a certain amount to receive a specific payout, which is all based on the odds set.
Example: How many times will the candidates say “impeach” at the debate?
- Over 30 times +100
- Under 30 times -130
For the example above, betting on the “Over” is a 1-to-1 payout since the odds are set at +100 or Even. A $100 bet would win $100 for a total of $200. For the “Under,” the odds are minus, which means more money must be “at-risk” since it’s more likely to occur. As a result, a $130 bet wins $100 for a total of $230.
The key advantage that sportsbooks have over prediction markets is that they can offer much higher limits or outright have no limit at all. Additionally, because oddsmakers don’t adjust the odds on prop every time a wager is placed, there’s a much higher chance to find value on the board at any given time.
If you like to investing or trading stocks, then you might prefer prediction betting markets, like PredictIt, for example, over a traditional sportsbook. Most props in the market require you to invest a certain amount of cents per dollar on a “Yes” or “No” questions while other propositions give you a range of possible answers that could payout.
Since prediction betting sites base their odds on supply and demand economics, the price of a stock is determined by its market value at a given point in time.
Example: Will a candidate’s average RCP polling numbers go up after the debate?
- Yes 40¢
- No 60¢
With the market’s political props, the key difference is that your investment is subtracted from the amount paid out. The winner receives 100 cents for each dollar, so the “Yes” would 40 cents on the dollar and would profit 60 cents for each dollar invested if its the correct outcome. Investing 60 cents on the dollar for “No” has a higher cost because it’s more likely to happen and returns 40 cents on the dollar for winning.
The advantage over sportsbooks is that the market value for props fluctuates on a daily basis, which could be used to your advantage if you’re someone who likes to strike when the iron’s hot. However, the downside is that because prediction sites in the US operate as a non-profit for research, they limit the amount anyone can invest (Ex. PredictIt has $850 limit for any contract) while sportsbooks will have limits between $1000 and $5000 or have no at all.
Political Proposition Bets vs. Political Futures
Gambling money on props differs from political futures because it’s more of a “side bet” that is based on either an occurrence or non-occurrence of a specific event and not the outcome itself like with futures.
Here’s an example: You’re probably familiar with Super Bowl prop bets, which annually have odds posted on the “number of songs played at halftime” and “Gatorade color poured on the winning coach” among many others.
Although these are things that will happen during the big game, they ultimately do not determine which NFL team wins the Super Bowl and lifts the Lombardi Trophy.
Prop betting works the same for politics. Odds for “who will win the popular vote” and “how many times will Trump post tweets during the week before an election” belong in the prop bet category because they ultimately do not determine a winner.
Betting on who receives the 270 electors of the 538 total in the electoral college for the general election is not a prop bet because it directly determines which candidate wins the general election and becomes the President of the United States.
Political Prop Examples
We’ve included several political prop bets that have previously been offered at sportsbooks and prediction markets, so you can have a better understanding of what kinds of possible occurrences are regularly available to receive prop betting action.
The possibilities for props are literally endless when it comes to politics, so needless to say, the oddsmakers and markets like to have some fun with their offerings.