Over the past year, John Aristotle Phillips and I have placed a lot of bets. Meeting regularly for sandwiches and beers at Soho House, a members’ club in Manhattan and his de facto office, we debated and wagered on the outcome of many contests — football games, macroeconomic data, Kentucky Derby thoroughbreds, election results and more.
Money and gambling dice are shown in front of a screen showing political market odds in Los Angeles on November 1, 2023. Political betting was common — and legal — in the United States until the rise of relatively accurate polling in the
1930s. Futures trading regulations passed in 1936, as well as crackdowns on sports betting and the perception of gambling as seedy all helped put an end to markets that once populated both Wall Street and the politics pages of newspapers.
Today, critics still worry gambling could fuel corruption or the gamification of the political system. But, as the internet has made gambling easier, users use VPNs to skirt around government regulators that have closed down sites or halted the
entry of platforms that try to offer political betting to Americans. Photo by Chris Delmas / AFP