If you thought that political betting was just about predicting how many seats the Tories will get at the General Election or whether Charles Kennedy will step down then think again. The Tradesports organisation has an amazing array of betting markets that are simply not conceivable in the UK. The company is based in Ireland but focuses on the US market.
In their “Current Events” section there’s a healthy market on terrorism. If you reckon that there’s going to be a terrorist incident that will be of such a magnitude that the level of US Homeland security has to be raised from Yellow to Red then you can bet on it. Mind you – if you did put a lot of money on this and won then I’m sure that would not go unnoticed by the authorities and some funny policemen would soon be knocking at your door at 6 in the morning! Reassuringly the current favourite is Yellow (condition elevated). But who is betting on this stuff?
You can bet when you expect Osama Bin Laden to be captured or if you think Yasser Arafat will depart from Palestine. There’s also a market on whether a Palestinian State will be established by 31 December 2005.
In the main politics section there’s a healthy market on who will be Kerry’s running mate. I notice that no UK bookmakers have put this on their agenda. It could be interesting.
If you have a legal bent there’s even a market on how long the Martha Stewart jail sentence will be. Michael Jackson fans might want to make a punt on the outcome of his court case. If that happened in the UK the courts would surely rule that the bookmaker was in contempt.
Looking at the site I wondered whether the CIA or some other part of the US security apparatus might have some influence. There was a series of stories last year about a plan to create markets in “terrorist subjects” as a way of flushing out information – the theory being that people are by nature greedy and if they have some information they will try to profit from it. At the time it was announced that the plan was dropped – or was it?