November 17, 2020
Punters with huge wagers on the outcome of the US Presidential elections will have to be patient for their money. While most news networks called the results of the highly-competitive contest last weekend, major betting companies are withholding payments throughout the world.
Meanwhile, most companies continue accepting wagers as the odds fluctuate and President Donald Trump continues to pursue legal actions. Punters have arrived in huge numbers across prediction markets and betting platforms, and by the time the polls closed on Election Day, Betfair had wagered over $440 million on the contest.
The figure expanded to $600 million the very next day, shattering the $258 million in wagers recorded during the previous US Elections in 2016. Without disclosing their identity, Betfair said an individual placed a $1.32 million wager that would payout $2 million if Biden wins the contest.
With Trump refusing to bow down and votes still being counted in most states, including a recount in Georgia, Betfair is still accepting wagers. The official statement on Betfair’s website reads, “We will settle the accounts once we’re certain which candidate has the maximum projected Electoral College votes”.
History proves it’s prudent to wait until the last minute. In 2016, a decision for an early payout backfired when PaddyPower paid over $1 million before Election Day to people who thought Hillary Clinton would secure a comfortable win over Trump. Although gambling on the US presidential elections is illegal, New Zealand-based PredictIt is licensed by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
The platform which was originally founded as a research tool by the Victoria University of Wellington hosts future trading markets for academics and research. Over 117 million shares were traded on PredictIt by the end of Election Day, compared to the 46 million recorded in 2016.
PredictIt won’t close their accounts until all recounts and litigations are resolved, and there is a legitimate winner. “Once the final count arrives, and a winner is officially announced, we’ll suspend the market” revealed Brandi Travis, Chief Marketing Officer, Aristotle International, the firm in charge of overseeing operations for the platform.
This means gamblers could potentially have to wait for a few weeks, if not a couple of months for their winnings to credit. “This is bad for business and bad for your website” Travis commented on the uncertainty ahead.
“Trump and the Republicans far exceeded expectations this year. No matter what happens now, the Presidential elections paid off” said Robert Barnes, an attorney who became famous during the 2016 elections for wagering over $120,000 on Trump.
The flurry around Trump returning to power this year was evident on PredictIt as the current President’s share increased to 16 cents on the Dollar from 8 cents on November 7. This is in line with prediction markets consistently overrating Trump’s chances of returning to Office. According to Derek Phillip, a professional political gambler, “This is like a rebound for Trump’s 2016 win where gamblers refuse to accept any predictions that suggest he might be in trouble. Let’s just hope lightning doesn’t strike twice in 2020”.
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