Gambling on presidential elections in Nevada gets support

Vegas 1CBS News – In Las Vegas, it’s legal to bet on a horse race, but not the race for presidency. That could change if state Senator Tick Segerblom has his way. Segerblom said he wants a law allowing Nevada casinos to make room for people who want to pick win, place or show on America’s top political job, “especially when you have an industry like we have here in Nevada. We bet on everything.”

Turns out his idea isn’t so new after all. In the early 1900s gambling on candidates was illegal, but Americans gathered outdoors in New York City to make their wagers. On Wall Street, it was called the curb exchange. In 1916, an estimated $160 million was bet on the election that Woodrow Wilson won.

Today, gambling on American elections is legal in Great Britain, where close $2 million was bet on the last election in one gaming establishment, Ladbrokes. They’re already handicapping 2016.

“I can see we have Hillary Clinton as a 6-to-4 favorite, and then there is a massive gap to Marco Rubio and Chris Christie who are both in there 12 to 1. We have George Clooney at 200 to 1,” said Alex Donohue, spokesperson for Ladbrokes.

Income from political gambling in Nevada could hit an estimated $50 million, generating $2 million in taxes.

Segerblom said not doing it here is “crazy and stupid, because its tax money that we should keep here as opposed to sending it overseas.”

Some argue that people might skip voting if the odds were against their candidate.

Jimmy Vaccaro, a Vegas oddsmaker for almost four decades, thinks gambling might just be the cure for low voter turnout.