Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey Urge Feds To Not Allow Election Gambling

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/08/08/elizabeth-warren-ed-markey-urge-feds-to-not-allow-election-gambling/

No to gambling on American elections, the two U.S. senators from Massachusetts say.

U.S. senators Ed Markey (D-Malden) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge) teamed up with several of their Democratic colleagues to voice opposition to a proposal that could allow for legal gambling on American elections.

The two joined a coalition that included U.S. senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) in sending a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission telling chairman Rostin Behnam to oppose a proposal from a private prediction market group seeking to make election betting legal.

Kalshi, a private predictions company, notified the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in June that it wants to let people effectively bet on American election outcomes. The company is a federally-regulated exchange that allows people to trade on the outcome of events. The value of shares increases and decreases based on how the probability of an event changes. For example, if a candidate were to rise in the polls, that candidate’s share value could increase.

However, the Democratic lawmakers, including Warren and Markey, worry that election gambling would hurt election integrity.

“There is no doubt that the mass commodification of our democratic process would raise widespread concerns about the integrity of our electoral process,” Warren and Markey wrote in their letter. “Such an outcome is in clear conflict with the public interest and would undermine confidence in our political process — we urge the CFTC to deny Kalshi’s proposal.”

In their letter, the senators noted that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission bars event contracts that “involve, relate to, or reference” gaming or other activities that states have not legalized, provided that it determines the contract is “contrary to the public interest.” 

The senators say they think something that constitutes election gambling is an example of what the the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is meant to stop, and said that this would be the first time the commission let a for-profit company offer event contracts on political events.

They also said that not only would allowing gambling on elections make people more skeptical of election results, but they also worry that rich people could manipulate election results for profit.

“For example, billionaires could expand their already outsized influence on politics by wagering extraordinary bets while simultaneously contributing to a specific candidate or party,” the senators wrote. “There are strong ethics concerns as political insiders privy to non-public information could wield their inside information to profit at voters’ expense. Lastly, these bets could sway the outcome of our elections, undermining the voices of voters. If citizens believe that the democratic process is being influenced by those with financial stakes, it may further exacerbate the disenfranchisement and distrust of voters already facing our nation.”

Press spokesmen for Warren, Markey, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission could not be reached for comment on Monday or Tuesday.

You can read the full letter here.



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