By Melanie Patten
THE CANADIAN PRESS
HALIFAX: Atlantic Canadians captivated by the U.S. presidential race can now put their political instincts to the money test: the regional lottery corporation is for the first time taking bets on the fate of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the rest of the field.
The Atlantic Lottery Corp. is taking advantage of Canadians’ fascination with U.S. politics by taking bets through its Pro-Line platform on the outcome of the Democratic and Republican nominations as well as the presidency.
It’s a first for the corporation, though spokeswoman Christine Manore said it has previously taken so-called novelty bets on Academy Award winners or televised singing competitions such as The Voice.
“It’s a very quickly changing industry,” Manore said from Moncton, N.B. “We’re just looking to expand and find different options to interest our players and we thought this might be a neat one.”
Pro-Line is primarily a sports-betting game with odds set independently by a team from Atlantic Lottery.
Manore said the same team is also setting the odds for the presidential race option with the payout happening down the road.
“If there’s a debate or if there’s a particular candidate making more of a stir, they would watch that and adjust the odds accordingly.”
As of Wednesday, Hillary Clinton was the odds-on favourite to win both the Democratic nomination and the presidency. On the Republican side, Marco Rubio was favoured to win the party’s nomination followed by Trump.
The payout is based on the player’s selection and odds at the time of the ticket purchase. A $2 bet Wednesday for Clinton as the Democratic presidential candidate could pay out a mere $2.10. Risk-takers placing the same bet on Martin O’Malley could walk away with just over $134 if he pulled out a surprise win.
David Johnson, a political scientist at Cape Breton University, said political betting has been happening for decades in Britain. He said the Pro-Line game speaks to the interest of Canadians in American politics.
“I think this is an interesting way for Pro-Line to tap into that interest,” he said. “I’m kind of surprised the bean counters at Pro-Line hadn’t cottoned onto this until now.”
Manore said the corporation, which launched the game last month, offers better protection for players over unregulated websites that also accept bets on the presidential race.
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation was the first in Canada to offer novelty bets on U.S. politics, taking wagers on the New York mayoral campaign of 2014 through its website, playnow.com. A spokeswoman said the BCLC is also taking bets on the 2016 presidential campaign.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., which also offers sports betting, said it won’t be taking wagers on the presidential race though it would take note of how the game performs in Atlantic Canada.
The Democrats and the Republicans will choose their nominee at conventions in July.
© 2016 The Canadian Press