She watched press conferences by Trump surrogates who claimed the election was a fraud. She watched a pro-Trump web show that alleged the same. Then, using the online gambling service Betfair, she wagered even more money on a Trump victory after Election Day.
“To be honest, the more likely it looked like fraud, the more I bet,” Helen, an Amsterdam-based British woman who declined to give her last name, told The Daily Beast.
Had Trump won re-election, Helen would have won nearly €2.7 million euros, according to screenshots of her Betfair account. But Betfair and other gambling sites closed the books on their 2020 presidential betting on Monday, after the Electoral College certified Biden’s victory. Now Helen, who says she’s lost approximately €140,000 and believes the election results will be overturned, is joining other bettors in accusing gambling sites of wrongly calling the election for Biden.
Some of those Trump bettors are turning to conspiracy theories about election fraud—and threats to visit the homes of gambling company employees.
Americans (with a few exceptions) cannot legally bet on elections, but gamblers in Europe and Asia poured millions into the 2020 presidential race. Some of those bettors, like a Brit who wagered about $1 million on Biden, became significantly richer when betting sites began paying out after Biden’s Electoral College win on Monday.
Others were not so lucky. Some of these European bettors have become deeply invested in U.S. election fraud conspiracy theories, which they (still, despite everything) say will result in an overturned election and the return of their money.
Jordan Lea, a U.K. man, told The Daily Beast he had “around £50,000 riding on Trump winning.” He and others say they are appealing to Betfair to undo its payouts, ostensibly because Trump could still win (he can’t).
Lea and Helen both said Biden’s victory was up for debate because Republicans in several states had filed lawsuits challenging the election, while other Republican legislators had assembled pro-Trump “alternate” electors to challenge Biden’s win in their states. Proponents of the “alternate” voter scheme claim Vice President Mike Pence will choose those pro-Trump votes instead of the legitimate ones when, per the 12th Amendment, Congress convenes to ratify the Electoral College vote on January 6.
In actuality, none of those maneuvers have any chance of flipping the election for Trump. Dozens of pro-Trump election lawsuits have been tossed, including by the conservative-led Supreme Court. And the so-called “alternate” electors do not have any legal standing, despite some Republicans championing them as a way to hand blue states to Trump. There is “zero chance such a maneuver by Pence or the Republicans will succeed if they are bold enough to try this,” one elections expert told the Associated Press of the tactic.
And the fact of Trump’s defeat became even more ironclad on Tuesday, when GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explicitly congratulated Biden as the victor, after weeks of silence.
Still, the election’s results were uncertain enough for sites like Betfair to hold off on declaring a winner until Biden received his Electoral College victory on December 14. “We will only settle the markets when there is certainty around which candidate has the most projected Electoral College votes,” Betfair announced on November 5, two days after the election.
WIth Betfair still accepting wagers long after voting had stopped, some bettors like Helen dropped more money on the race, on the basis of voter-fraud theories.
“I watched the hearings of Rudy Guiliani and Jenna Ellis for ballot fraud, I listed [sic] to Sidney Powell and Lin Wood for the election fraud,” she said, in reference to conspiratorial lawyers arguing in Trump’s favor. “It looked very, very likely from the day of the election like it was fraud and as more info came out, I was more convinced of the win. Which is why I have such a large amount riding on it.”
Lea said it was wrong for Betfair to call the election after Biden’s Electoral College win because the company “explicitly told us that they're aware of these alternate electors and still claim that there is 100 percent certainty surrounding the Electoral College vote.”
He claimed an early version of Betfair’s terms and conditions said the site would pay out bets only when a candidate won the majority of Electoral College votes, and that on November 27, the site quietly changed its rules to read, the “most projected Electoral College votes.” (In fact, an archived version of the site and its terms and conditions from November 6 shows the language about “projected” votes.) He said that had he known Betfair would settle its bets when the Electoral College projected a winner, he would have “cashed out immediately” and used a different betting service.
Betfair did not immediately return a request for comment.
Lea and other aggrieved Europeans have gathered in chat rooms to assemble evidence for what they say will be a large claim against betting companies.
“We have thousands of screenshots documenting the LIES we were told by the live chat assistants, as we have grouped together in various chatrooms and are pooling the evidence together to stake our claim,” he said.
Not all of the chatrooms target Betfair. A chat room on the messaging platform Telegram also took aim at the company Bet365, with multiple members claiming to either be lawyers or have consulted lawyers on the case.
Others said they were actively pursuing lawsuits.
“Billy Bets,” a U.K.-based gambler and owner of a small pro-Trump forum, told The Daily Beast he and 15 other people in his new anti-Betfair Whatsapp group were pursuing legal action against the company for paying out Biden bets.
“I have a background in political betting over 5 years, and I can say that over this time I have never experienced the scope of passion of the people voting for Trump,” he told The Daily Beast. “Big tech, the mainstream media, and pollster[s] all said Trump had no chance, people believed in Trump so much so that they went against the status quo to vote for him.”
He claimed he ”personally 'lost' ￡9,500, so I am committed to getting it back.”
In the anti-Bet365 Telegram group, one anonymous person appeared to threaten company employees. “I have the geo location of where some members of Bet365 live just so patriots know,” the person wrote. A spokesperson for the company could not immediately be reached for comment.
Another user replied that the suggestion was “fucked. We’re not antifa.”
“Maybe it's time we became them,” the original poster wrote back. “They are trying to take everything.”
The only certainty among many of the bettors was that Trump would be re-inaugurated on January 20. Which, of course, he will not be.
“I figured it would be either a void election and get my money back or it would be a Trump win via the terms of the 12th Amendment,” Helen, the Amsterdam woman said. “Either way Trump will be inaugurated on 20th January and I expect Betfair to pay out accordingly.”