I’m Betting on the 2016 Election: Here’s How

Photo (cc) by Gage Skidmore

Proclaiming who you hope will win the White House is one thing. But is it something you’d bet on?

A couple of days ago, I wagered $500 that the Democrats would win the presidency in the upcoming election. It wasn’t a decision based on political leanings: It’s all about the money.

Here’s why I made that bet, and how I did it.

Betting on elections

For the most part, it’s illegal for U.S. citizens to bet on elections. There are, however, two exceptions.

PredictIt

PredictIt is a betting platform operated by, oddly enough, Victoria University in New Zealand. Here you can bet up to $850 on wagers ranging from which party will win the White House to whether North Korea will test a hydrogen bomb by year’s end.

Despite the ban on American political betting, PredictIt is legal. It got an exemption from the feds because it’s operated as a research tool.

Researchers like to study betting sites to see if they’re better predictors of the future than polls. They often are, which makes sense, since expressing an opinion isn’t the same thing as backing that opinion with real money. Bettors tend to use less emotion and more facts.

The picture above shows you what the White House odds were in mid-May. As you can see, the odds of a Democrat winning the White House were 63 percent, and the odds of a Republican winning were 37 percent. To place a bet, you’d pay 63 cents for one Democratic share. If a Democrat wins, your bet will pay $1, which means you’ll make 37 cents on your 63 cent bet. That translates to a 60 percent return.

One fly in the ointment, however: You won’t really win 37 cents because PredictIt takes a 10 percent cut of any profitable trade.

The Iowa Electronic Markets

Election Betting Iowa Graph

The University of Iowa also offers a legal betting platform, and for the same reason as PredictIt: research. This is the platform I used to place my recent bet.

This platform has a maximum account size of $500. To participate, you first have to print out an online form, then snail-mail it with a check to the university. A week or so later, you’re notified by email that you’re ready to play.

Shortly before I started this article, I bet about $500 on a Democratic White House win. At that time, the price to buy shares, called the ask price, was 62 cents. The price of shares being sold, known as the bid price, was 60 cents. I put in an order between these two prices, at 61 cents. When you specify a price, that’s known as a limit order.

Within a few hours, my limit order was filled. I now own 800 shares. If I choose to wait until the election and a Democrat wins the presidency, each of my shares will be worth $1, so I’ll get $800. If I decide to sell my shares before then, I’ll get whatever the bid, or selling, price is at that time.

Unlike PredictIt, the University of Iowa market doesn’t take 10 percent of any winnings. That’s why I used them.

Place your bets!

Betting on elections is like any other kind of betting: It’s something you only do if you’re using money you’re willing and able to lose. Unlike other types of gambling, however, these sites are fascinating even if you never bet. Because they’ve historically been more accurate than polls and pundits, they’re a sound way to stay on top of what’s likely to happen.

One site I look at often that combines the results of both polls and betting sites, and is exceedingly simple to use, is ElectionBettingOdds.com. Here’s a current picture of it:

ElectionBettingOdds

Sites like this will keep you in the know. More important, they’ll save you countless hours of trying to figure out who’s ahead by reading articles and listening to the endless drivel on cable TV.

I’ll let you know how my bet comes out. In the meantime, let’s hear from you, either in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Who do you think is going to be our next president? Willing to put your money where your mouth is?

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
The 10 Best Outdoor Home Upgrades for Your Money
The 10 Best Outdoor Home Upgrades for Your Money

There’s still time this summer to make improvements to the exterior of your home. These offer the best payback.

10 Foods That Can Keep for Years
10 Foods That Can Keep for Years

These are some of the longest-lasting groceries you can buy.

9 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive
9 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive

These products from Amazon add elegance to your home without the expense.

8 Surefire Ways to Get Rid of Debt ASAP
8 Surefire Ways to Get Rid of Debt ASAP

Here’s how to painlessly speed up your debt-reduction efforts.

14 Service Providers Most Likely to Lower Your Bill If You Ask
14 Service Providers Most Likely to Lower Your Bill If You Ask

With these companies, it might be easier than you think to negotiate your monthly bill down.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.