With the Republican Party Convention kicking off today, American politics is one of the hottest conversation topics on social media, but it’s also becoming a popular gambling ground here in B.C.
Americans don’t get to vote until November, but U.S. election bets are already the most popular novelty betting category on the BC Lottery Corporation’s website PlayNow.com.
Doug Cheng with BCLC says only B.C. residents get to bet on anything from the gender of the next Royal baby to who is going to play the next James Bond on their website, which is the only legal gambling online portal in the province.
“With novelty betting, we try to tap into water cooler topics and current events that people either are talking about or we think they will talk about,” says Cheng. “So if we know people are talking about a certain topic, we want to give them an outlet to be proactive and have some fun with it as well, and these wagers are a way for us to do that.”
Cheng says BCLC was the first jurisdiction in Canada to offer novelty betting on the U.S. Election in 2014 through its website.
He says since then, the popularity of the bets has steadily increased, especially as Donald Trump gained momentum at the turn of the year when he started to solidify his status as the front-runner.
“The timing just worked out great for us with the convention coming up today and also the fact that Trump is such a contentious candidate that it’s an ongoing water cooler topic,” says Cheng.
PlayNow.com has a number of wagers on the U.S. elections, ranging from who will be the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate to whether an independent candidate will win the election.
Currently, Hillary Clinton has the edge over Donald Trump with 2 to 5 odds.
Trump’s odds of winning the presidency are currently slightly under 2 to 1. Cheng says Trump’s odds have vastly improved from his odds of 100 to 1 in January 2015.
The site also offered betting on Brexit vote results, but has not dabbled in Canadian politics yet.
“I think in general, Canadians pay a lot of attention to American politics, because obviously what happens there politically has an impact on us here,” says Cheng. “Someone would even argue that American politics is more interesting than Canadian politics anyway. We also have a candidate like Donald Trump, who dominates headlines with things he says and does. That definitely has been a big driver for us.”