2020 Election Betting Suspended After Donald Trump's COVID Diagnosis

Major bookmakers have suspended betting on the 2020 presidential election following the news that President Donald Trump has tested positive for coronavirus. First Lady Melania Trump and Counselor to the President Hope Hicks were also diagnosed with the virus.

As speculation has mounted about how Trump's diagnosis might affect his campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden, some of the world's most prominent bookmakers moved to temporarily suspend betting on the race.

Betfair put a halt to betting on the election on Friday as news of Trump's positive COVID test filtered through. They were soon followed by other major bookmakers, such as Ladbrokes, Australia's TAB and Ireland-based Paddy Power.

Betting experts Oddschecker also noted on their website that the suspension appears to be global.

"We have temporarily taken the U.S. election markets down as we await further updates—this is standard procedure and we wish Donald and Melania Trump well," a spokesperson for Ladbrokes said in a statement seen by Reuters.

While betting on elections is illegal in the U.S., it is allowed and common in other countries. Major bookmakers in the United Kingdom have been closely tracking the campaign and offering odds on who will win on November 3.

Millions have so far been waged on the outcome of the election but most bookmakers reacted to Trump's positive coronavirus test by refusing to take further bets at this time. This is likely due to the current uncertainty about the president's health and his campaign.

British bookmakers William Hill were reportedly still taking bets on the race Friday morning, becoming one of the only companies still accepting them. William Hill cut Biden's odds to 4/7 and Trump's to 5/4 this morning, according to betting website Compare.bet.

Biden's odds were slashed following the first presidential debate on Tuesday night, meaning bookmakers believed he had a higher chance of winning the election following his debate performance.

The Democratic candidate's implied probability of victory had risen from 55.60 percent to 58.34 percent. In contrast, Trump's had dropped from 45.50 percent to 42.10 percent.

In one interesting development before betting was suspended, Australian bookmakers significantly shortened Vice President Mike Pence's odds of becoming the next U.S. president.

Pence's odds stood at 300 to 1 at the beginning of the day but narrowed to just 26 to 1 in the wake of the president's tweet announcing his positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

Trump and Biden at the First Debate
U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden look out to the audience at end of the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. Betting on the election has been suspended. Win McNamee/Getty Images