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Political betting was legal in West Virginia -- for about an hour

9th April, 01:30

West Virginia became the only state in the country to allow betting on political races Tuesday -- but it only lasted for about an hour before officials pulled the plug.

The West Virginia Lottery, which runs sports betting in the state, had given the green light for operators to offer wagers on politics, including the upcoming presidential election.

A short time later, New York-based bookmaker giant FanDuel posted odds on the White House race, with President Trump as a slight favorite over Democrat Joe Biden.

But after about an hour, FanDuel stopped taking bets, saying that "while the markets were approved, the West Virginia Lottery has asked FanDuel to refrain from offering the markets until they have time to fully work through the implications of this new market offering."

Secretary of State Mac Warner had moved quickly to nix the play, citing a 150-year-old law.

"Gambling on elections has been illegal in West Virginia since 1868," Warner said in a statement. "Gambling on the outcome of an election has no place in our American democracy. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever."

He added: "This is a terrible idea. Let's shut this down right now and be very clear about it."

The bizarre sequence of events baffled even Gov. Jim Justice, who had not been aware of the deal until after it was announced.

"I thought, you know, are you kidding me? The first thing that came to my mind was, you know, what next?" Justice said Wednesday. "It's humorous but it's ridiculous."

On Wednesday, West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers acknowledged that his office had "screwed up."

"I thought it would be okay, but after review, it was clearly a mistake. We just screwed up," Myers said in a statement. "I didn't have the authority to do it, it should have never happened and I apologize to everyone."

In the hourlong window when political wagers were allowed, FanDuel said it took just one bet, though it wouldn't say who it was for or how much cash was involved.

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