What Federal Law Prohibits Betting on the Presidency?

A lot of people are interested in what the law says about betting on the U.S. presidential election. The general rule is that you cannot legally bet on the outcome of a presidential election. There are exceptions to this rule, such as when a gambler is playing a game of chance in a casino. What is the legal status of betting on the presidency? Let’s find out.

History Of Prohibitions

In 1866, the Dred Scott decision by the United States Supreme Court effectively banned federal and state discrimination against African Americans. Congress responded to the Scott decision with the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits any state from denying any person equal protection under the law. This amendment gave rise to the federal government’s prohibition against betting on the presidency. In a nutshell, the amendment protects citizens from being discriminated against based on their race.

In 1895, Congressman Robert G. McClintock proposed an amendment to the United States Constitution that would have prohibited states from prohibiting citizens from owning or wagering on a “horse, dog, or any animal or bird.” The McClintock amendment never passed into law. In the forty-four years since then, states have been permitted to prohibit citizens from betting on animals – with certain exceptions.

Allowed And Prohibited Activities

There are certain exceptions to the federal government’s ban on betting on the presidency. For example, when a person is playing a game of chance in a casino, this is legal as long as the gambler doesn’t directly profit from the bet. One of the most significant exceptions is when two individuals form a partnership and the first person to place a wager does so on the behalf of the partnership. In most instances, federal law prohibits an individual from soliciting or accepting a bet from someone he knows cannot legally engage in such activity. In the case of a presidential election, the individual accepting the bet is considered the “principal,” and the person placing the bet is considered the “agent.” If the agent accepts a wager that violates the law, the principal will be held criminally liable. Federal law also prohibits giving illegal betting advice and profiting from the information given. For more information on these topics, be sure to consult your legal counsel.

Are There Any Exceptions?

There are some instances when it is legal to bet on the presidency. For example, an individual can legally engage in a game of chance in a casino, and that is considered a “legitimate” or “bona fide” wager. If the individual playing the game accepts a wager in a manner that violates the law, the federal government’s general policy is to prosecute the individual. However, there are also certain exceptions where it is legal to accept a wager from an individual who is accepting bets on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity. If you are planning on accepting bets from individuals or companies, make sure that you are aware of the legal ramifications of doing so. It is also essential that you consult an attorney who specializes in gaming law before accepting any wagers.

An example of a “corporate exception” would be a poker game being played for charitable donations. In a situation like this, it is legal for the casino to accept wagers from individuals as long as the money raised stays within the legal limits of the organization. The law also provides some protection to the casino in cases where the organization violates the law. Even in instances where the organization itself is breaking the law, the casino is usually considered a “bona fide” participant in the game, and it cannot be prosecuted for accepting wagers.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are accepting bets from individuals or companies that you know are prohibited from doing so, you are likely to find yourself in legal trouble. Most states have “gray areas” in their gaming laws that make it difficult to determine with certainty whether or not particular activities are allowed under state law. Be aware that just because something is permitted under federal law that does not mean it is legal under state law. Always know what the proper authorities are and how to contact them if you need assistance. 

Where Can I Get More Information?

The best place to find information about federal law is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website. The FTC was created by Congress to prevent anticompetitive practices and ensure fair business dealings. One of their primary responsibilities is to safeguard consumer rights. If you feel that you have been discriminated against in any way by an entity or individual due to your citizenship or race, the FTC provides a useful resource for finding legal representation. Visit their website to learn more:

  • FTC (Federal Trade Commission): (www.ftc.gov)
  • Privacy Shield: (https://www.ftc.gov/privacy-shield)
  • You Have A Problem? (https://www.ftc.gov/help)
  • Contact The Consumer Help Center (https://www.ftc.gov/contact-consumer-help-center)
  • ATC: (Access To Case Information): (https://www.ftc.gov/atc)
  • Telephone (TTY/TDD): (1-866-634-6668)
  • Email (Email): (ftc.gov/email)

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) website also has useful information about the legal status of advertising and PR agencies in relation to the U.S. presidential election. Visit their website to learn about the differences between advertising and public relations agencies:

  • Advertising Agencies: (www.4a.org/what-we-do/federal-law/political-advertising-legal-status)
  • Public Relations Agencies: (www.4a.org/what-we-do/political-campaigns/public-relations-legal-status)

What Can I Do To Protect Myself?

If you have been discriminated against due to your race or citizenship in any way, you have every right to file a formal complaint with the proper authorities. There are many cases where people have gotten in trouble for accepting wagers in circumstances where this was prohibited. You should consult an attorney who handles such cases to learn more about your rights and options. You could file a lawsuit against the individual or corporate that discriminated against you. However, in most cases, this is not the best route to take. Filing a lawsuit will most likely result in you having to pay legal fees to prosecute the case, and in some instances, this could end up costing you more money than what you would have won had you not taken the expensive route in the first place.

If you find yourself in a similar situation in the future, it would be wise to take the following steps:

Find An Attorney

One of the best places to find an attorney is through your local bar association. In most cities, there is a “problem-solving court” that handles civil, criminal, and domestic cases for people who cannot afford legal representation. Many bar associations have a referral service that can connect you with an attorney who handles cases like yours. If you live in a city that does not have a “problem-solving court,” you can find a state-wide legal aid clinic that can provide you with affordable legal counsel. If you live in a small town, there are usually only a few attorneys who handle cases like yours. In this case, it is better to try to represent yourself, as it will be more economical in the long run.