In what appeared to be a first for American sportsbooks, the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) approved wagering on the outcome of the 2024 United States presidential election, Max Hartgraves, a spokesperson for the ADG, confirmed to US Bets Wednesday morning.
And then an hour later, Hartgraves called back with some news.
“It was an error on our part adding that to the catalog,” Hartgraves said. “That is not a legal wager in the state and has actually been removed, and we’re working to make sure no wagers were accepted on the election.”
This news was met with disappointment by Gregory Gorla, the director of sportsbook operations at Desert Diamond Sports and the man responsible for petitioning the ADG in the first place.
“I wrote up a request last year and they denied it, which I totally understood,” Gorla said. “But then the calendar flipped to 2023, and I figured no harm in asking again.”
Gorla did ask again — last week. And this Monday, the ADG added election betting to its approved non-sports wagering catalog.
“Arizona has been very aggressive, and the ADG has been very warm to ideas about different aspects of betting,” Gorla said. “There’ve been things they’ve said no to, like props on Arizona college players. That’s a no-go, and I get it.”
But the state has approved virtually all award markets in sports leagues, as well as Oscar and Grammy betting.
Kambi first to offer odds
Desert Diamond Sports partners with Kambi. As a result, all Kambi books were getting the presidential odds feed. Gorla said that, in addition to his book, Unibet and BetRivers had posted presidential odds.
Kambi is excited to announce a multi-channel agreement with @DiamondCasinos, an enterprise of the Tohono O’odham Nation.
The deal will see Kambi provide its sportsbook to Desert Diamond Casinos' Arizona casino properties, with online to follow.
— Kambi (@KambiSports) November 1, 2021
The only approved wager was “who is going to win?” Arizona bettors could not have bet on who the candidates would be or which party would win the election.
As of Wednesday morning, and before the odds came down, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was the favorite to be the next American president at +250, followed by President Joe Biden at +300. Former President Donald Trump was third, at +475.
From there, it was longshot territory, with Vice President Kamala Harris at +2000, California Gov. Gavin Newsom at +3000, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at +3300, former First Lady Michelle Obama at +4000, and former Vice President Mike Pence at +4000.
After that, it was a veritable who’s-who of actual and would-be politicians, including M&M’s-hater Tucker Carlson at +5000 and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at +6600.
Tucker: Mars made their m&m characters as unattractive as possible.. The green m&m lost her sexy boots, the brown m&m her stiletto heels.. The company added obese and distinctly frumpy lesbian M&M’s.. pic.twitter.com/qIiAXtwCMQ
— Acyn (@Acyn) January 24, 2023
Joe Rogan made an appearance as a 250/1 dark horse, as did Tom Brady at the same odds. Meghan Markle could’ve been had for 500/1, the same price as the WWE’s Vince McMahon Jr.
“I love this business and want to see it grow,” Gorla said. “We’re way behind some of the other countries in what we can offer, and this was one of those things I thought would be exciting to do. I’m really sad about this one, thought it was a go, but I guess it’s not the case.”
Gorla said he’s not giving up on election betting and will continue to try and get Arizona regulators to approve it.
This marks the second time a state has done a quick 180 on political betting. In April 2020, West Virginia approved betting on the 2020 election. FanDuel posted odds, and it lasted all of two hours before it was taken down.
Photo: Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union/USA TODAY NETWORK