On Friday, the Commodity Future Trading Commission (CFTC) rejected KalshiEX, LLC’s (Kalshi) event contract proposal to allow individuals to bet on party control of either chamber of Congress for a given term. In July, Congressmen John Sarbanes (MD-03) and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) sent a letter to the CFTC urging it to deny the proposal.
“When Americans show up to cast their ballot, they deserve to know that their vote is free from election interference or the corrupting influence of dark money in elections,” said the lawmakers. “At a time when election denialism and extremism are at an all-time high, efforts to legalize gambling on political outcomes pose a fundamental threat to our democracy and the public’s trust in our democratic institutions. We applaud the CFTC’s decision to reject Kalshi’s proposal, which would have increased the proliferation of dark money in our politics and required the CFTC to investigate and enforce election laws – a role it is neither equipped nor authorized to hold. As the agency concluded on Friday, gambling on elections is squarely contrary to public interest. It is vital we must continue to stand united against all efforts that could reasonably incentivize individuals to interfere with our elections and drown out the true voices of American voters.”
“Elections should not be financial auctions of public offices to the highest bidder nor should they be gambling events in which bettors double as voters. Elections should promote public deliberation not casino gambling,” said Rep. Raskin.
In their July letter to the CFTC, Congressmen Sarbanes and Raskin argued that the agency should deny Kalshi’s event contract proposal on the basis it was “contrary to the public interest” for its potential to increase election interference and dark money proliferation, undermine election integrity and public trust, and fundamentally be inconsistent with democratic representation. In its 23-page order, the CFTC stated that a significant portion of those who filed public comments expressed concerns about the proposal’s effects on election integrity and inconsistency with democratic ideals. The agency also quoted the lawmakers’ letter directly as it discussed concerns about the agency being forced to serve as an ‘election cop’ as part of its reasoning for denying the contract.