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Betting exchanges taking bets for 2004 US elections

Future Prospects
How will the next election conclude?
by Lucas Everidge

In a new twist on futures trading and Internet gambling, Trading exchanges are taking bets on the 2004 US elections. Also called betting exchanges, these operations allow people to speculate on the chances of a political win or loss.

So if you think John Kerry could defeat beating George W. Bush, you can put your money where your mouth is now by purchasing a futures contract.

A 70-cent bet on a Bush reelection pays $1 if he wins next year, according to odds offered recently at Irish online exchange Intrade.com (see banners on page). So a 30-cent bet on Kerry will get you $1 should Bush lose. Since trading opened, bets on Bush have been in the 58 cents to 73 cents range.

This is just one of many of interesting subjects that can be traded. Other current events available for trade include the outcome of the Kobe Bryant case, and the capture of Osama Bin Laden. If current events don't interest you, they have contracts available on future currency fluctuations, economic numbers and company earnings.

Want to buy a futures contract on whether Staples, WebMD or Microsoft meet their quarterly earnings?

The day after John Kerry cliched the Democratic nomination, contracts appeared on his potential vice-president.

Trading volume is high on contracts regarding whether Bush will win the electoral votes of Minnesota. And at Wednesday's close at 39 cents, that could be worth a look.

Some punters think there are bargains to be had. Bethesda businessman Tom Skinner recommends buying Bush to win Arkansas at 65 cents and West Virginia at 63 cents, but selling Bush at an overpriced 86 cents in Arizona and 73 cents in New Mexico.

No More Mars Bets

News in March from NASA regarding life on Mars caused British bookies to stop taking wagers on the existence of life on Mars. Yahoo News reported that the bookmaking firm Ladbrokes stopped taking bets on the question.

A Ladbrokes spokesman says the latest odds in favor of past life on Mars were 16-1. Back in the '70s, when the first bets were placed, the odds were 1,000-1.

He says he expects that scientists will find evidence of past life on Mars within the coming years.

Lucas Everidge is a writer living in Austin, Texas.

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