Senators write to CFTC to reject Kalshi proposal allowing gambling on US elections

August 3, 2023
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Lawmakers claim that the private, regulated exchange, proposing up to $100m bets, goes against Commodities Futures Trading Commission and election integrity policies.

Senators from five states have recently sent an opposing letter to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), in criticism of a proposal from KalshiEx (Kalshi) that would allow for-profit gambling markets on US elections. The proposal would allow bets of up to $100m for some traders, and could lead to profiting off political outcomes, as well as potential election interference.

Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Edward Markey (MA), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Chris Van Hollen (MD), and Dianne Feinstein (CA) are also supported by other policymakers and advocacy groups in their efforts to see this proposal rejected.

The letter to the CFTC Chairman, Rostin Behnam, said, “There is no doubt that the mass commodification of our democratic process would raise widespread concerns about the integrity of our electoral process. 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.”

The CFTC regulations were also firmly called into question in the text of the letter, which stated, “CFTC regulations prohibit event contracts that ‘involve, relate to, or reference... gaming... an activity that is unlawful under any State or Federal law... or other similar activity determined by the Commission, by rule or regulation, to be contrary to the public interest.’

“Kalshi’s proposal closely resembles gaming; placing a bet or wager on the outcome of an election is civilly or criminally unlawful in well over a dozen states nationwide, and establishing a large for-profit market on election outcomes is decidedly contrary to the public interest.”

Congressman John Sarbanes and Jamie Raskin of Maryland also submitted a letter to the CFTC condemning the nature of the proposed election markets. This letter stated, “No one should be able to wager the rights and opportunities of millions of individuals for his or her personal gain.”


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