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Betting on Saddam's Fate

10 March 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – As reported by the ABC News: "…Think you know when Saddam will be booted from office?

"…You can put your money where your mouth is at Dublin, Ireland-based Convinced Saddam will be dead by June 30? Missing? "Smoking Cubans with buddy boy [Moammar Gadhafi]?"

"… You can place your bets at Costa Rica-based — though some critics question the tastefulness of such bets.

"… — which spokesman Eddie King boasts represents "the visionaries of this business" of betting on everything from who will win Survivor to which rock stars will overdose this year — places odds of 3 to 2 Saddam will be dead by June 30, and 2 to 1 he'll be in exile or in U.S. custody.

"…Fans of longer odds might want to take the 5 to 1 action on the Gadhafi proposition, or 150 to 1 odds that he'll `travel to Calcutta and take up Mother Teresa's torch,' `join the Backstreet Boys and tour with Elton John,' or be seized by violent aliens who will claim him as a citizen of their planet.

"…King said this week that had taken 8,000 to 10,000 bets for about $750,000 on Saddam and war prospects over the approximately three weeks questions have been posted on its site.

"…, on the other hand, has taken more than 62,000 `trades' on Saddam's future as president since it began listing the propositions Sept. 24.

"As of 10 a.m. ET today, the site's `traders' placed 35 percent odds Saddam would be gone as president of Iraq by the end of the month, 74 percent odds he would be deposed by the end of April, 81 percent odds he would be gone by the end of May, and 87 percent by the end of June.

"…`Even bookmakers have their own opinion on what represents good and bad taste,' said Graham Sharpe, media relations director for the British-based bookmaker William Hill.

"…Like several large British bookmakers, William Hill now is taking bets on things like elections and the Oscars, but not on Iraq.

"…But according to Kevin Smith, a researcher for the River City Group, a Missouri publishing and consulting company that caters to the online gaming industry, some bookmakers seemed to start taking bets on American military action for the first time after Sept. 11, 2001, when various propositions asked when and where Osama bin Laden would be caught.

"I. Nelson Rose, a gambling historian and law professor at Whittier Law School in California, said bets on things like the Oscars and Iraq generally are not big moneymakers for bookmakers…"

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