With tens of millions of Americans ready to tune into what could be one of the most widely viewed presidential debates in history – with upward of 73 million watching, according to Neilson Ratings – two of the nation’s largest sportsbooks are looking to cash in.
Internet sports betting giants Draftkings and FanDuel will both allow patrons to wager on the outcomes of the debate, such as which candidate goes first, the questions that will be asked to President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, insults that the two might hurl at each other, or the color tie they will each wear.
DraftKings, which runs the online sportsbook for Resorts Casino Hotel, is offering $50,000 in prize money and has so far received bets from 200,000 people.
“Everyone has an opinion on the election and this is a way for people to be engaged and be able … to actually participate in what their feelings are on it,” Johnny Avello, head of sportsbook and gaming operations at DraftKings, said in an interview.
Meanwhile, FanDuel, which runs the sportsbook for the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, has a $10,000 pot of prize money.
Both pools are free to play in, the sportsbooks said, as they do not require patrons to actually wager any money.
“We remain as committed as ever to our brand promise of giving our players more ways to win. We demonstrated this when we hosted our first-ever political contest for the Democratic debate back in March, which our customers loved,” FanDuel Chief Marketing Officer Mike Raffensperger said in a late September statement.
The two operators offered similar products for the first presidential debate and the vice presidential debate between U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California and current Vice President Mike Pence.
With DraftKings, patrons can bet on topics such as which candidate speaks when walking up to the podium and whether Biden or Trump will interrupt the other one first—now a more complicated endeavor after the Commission on Presidential Debates said it would deploy a mute button on the two microphones.
Bets can be placed on which candidate first mentions Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease control expert, the phrase “pre-existing conditions,” or which state will be mentioned first.
And for both DraftKings and Fanduel, bets can be placed on which topic will come up first, such as Supreme Court nominee Amy Barrett, the COVID-19 pandemic, or the current economic recession.
Patrons at FanDuel can bet on which of the candidates will be the first to have their microphone cut off, whether Trump will refer to Biden as “Sleepy Joe,” or whether Biden or the moderator will bring up the president’s Twitter activity. They can also bet on whether Biden will mention Scranton or whether Trump will mention “fake news.”
Both DraftKings and FanDuel said they plan to offer a similar product for the outcome of the presidential election, where patrons can win cash prizes.
While actually betting money on the outcome of the election is outlawed, Aviello noted that patrons can still place free bets and win cash prizes in return.
Both sportsbooks have expanded beyond just wagers on sports, accepting bets on a variety of pop culture events, like the Oscars this past February.
“As we continue to lead our industry forward in innovation and creativity, we’ve seen incredible engagement around marquee events not tied to sports, such as awards shows, reality TV competitions, and more,” Raffensperger said.
Aviello said that other products include the chance for patrons to bet on the outcome of entertainment topics like the television series “Real Housewives” or “Survivor.”
“It’s kind of a novelty,” SportsHandle.com Editor-in-Chief Brett Smiley said in a 2019 interview. “I don’t know how many people want to wager more than a few bucks. [It’s] absolutely not a money-maker.”v